WORLD SCRIPTURE A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts



WORLD SCRIPTURE A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts
A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts
Dr. Andrew Wilson, Editor
International Religious Foundation, 1991
HTML conversion is now complete through Chapter 9, plus Chapters 17,19 - 21
Archived by Bruce Schuman, United Communities of Spirit
Title Page
This Archive
Advisors and Contributors
Foreword by Ninian Smart
Essay: World Scripture and Education for Peace
How to obtain a printed (hardbound/paperback) version
The Purpose of World Scripture
The Organization of World Scripture
The World's Religions and Their Scriptures
Prologue: Many Paths to One Goal
The Truth in Many Paths
Tolerance and Respect for All Believers
PART ONE: Ultimate Reality and the Purpose of Human
C HAPTER 1: Ultimate Reality
Traces of God's Existence
The One
Formless, Emptiness, Mystery
Transcendent, All-Pervasive Reality
Sovereign and Omnipotent
Immanent and Near at Hand
Eternal -- in a World of Transience
The Creator
Goodness and Love
Divine Father and Mother
CHAPTER 2: Divine Law, Truth, and Cosmic Principle
Eternal Truth
Moral Law
The Decalogue
The Golden Rule
Polarity, Relationality, and Interdependence
Cosmic Justice
CHAPTER 3: The Purpose of Life for the Individual
Joy and Happiness
For God's Good Pleasure
Image of God and Temple of God
Inborn Goodness and Conscience
Original Mind, No Mind
True Love
CHAPTER 4: The Purpose of Life in the Family and in Society
The Family
Parents and Children
Husband and Wife
Unity and Community
The People of God
The Ideal Society
CHAPTER 5: The Purpose of Life in the Natural World
The Sanctity of Nature
Reverence for Life
The Microcosm
The Lord of Spirits
Creation Rejoices
CHAPTER 6: Life Beyond Death and the Spiritual World
The Spiritual World: Mystery, Multiplicity, Analogy, Harmony
The Immortal Soul
Prepare Now for Eternity
Passage Beyond
Spiritual Benefactors
Spiritual Error and the Occult
PART TWO: Evil, Sin, and the Human Fall
CHAPTER 7: The Human Condition
The War Within
Pride and Egotism
Selfish Desire, Lust, and Greed
CHAPTER 8: Fall and Deviation
The Human Fall
Demonic Powers
Degraded Human Nature
God's Grief
CHAPTER 9: The Major Sins
Good and Evil
Lying and Deceit
Slander, Gossip, and Foul Speech
PART THREE: Salvation and the Savior
CHAPTER 10: Salvation-Liberation-Enlightenment
Universal Salvation
Atonement and Forgiveness of Sins
Crossing the Waters
Reversal and Restoration
Help and Deliverance
The Refining Fire
Born Anew
Eternal Life
The Unitive State
CHAPTER 11: The Founder
Call and Awakening
Rejected by the World
The Victor
He Who Subjugates Satan
The Revealer of Truth
The Man for Others
The Living Presence
The Person and Character of the Founder: Divine Person
Human Person
The Succession of Founders and Messengers
PART FOUR: The Religious Life
CHAPTER 12: Responsibility and Predestination
Individual Responsibility
Karma and Inherited Sin
CHAPTER 13: Self-cultivation and Spiritual Growth
Spiritual Growth
Cultivate the Good
Preparing the Start
Perseverance and Patience
CHAPTER 14: Faith
Devotion and Praise
Fear, Submission, and Obedience
Argument with God
CHAPTER 15: Wisdom
The Search for Knowledge
Scripture and Tradition
Poverty of Conceptual Learning
Scripture Teaches in Parables
Learning and Practice
Teacher and Disciple
New Wine and Old Wineskins
CHAPTER 16: Worship
The Name of God
Beyond Ritual
CHAPTER 17: Offering and Sacrifice
Persecution and Martyrdom
CHAPTER 18: Self-Denial and Renunciation
Self-denial and No-self
Repentance, Confession, and Restitution
Restraint and Moderation
Control Anger
Subdue Desires and Passions
Detachment from the Senses
Renunciation of Wealth
Asceticism and Monasticism
Separation from Family
Separation from the World
CHAPTER 19: Live for Others
Serving Others
Sacrificial Love
Giving and Receiving
Charity and Hospitality
Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Judge Not
Love Your Enemy
Turn the Other Cheek
Good Deeds
Labor and Industry
Honesty and Expediency
PART FIVE: Providence, Society, and the Kingdom of Heaven
CHAPTER 20: Good Government and the Welfare of Society
The Pillars of Society
The Prophet and Reformer
War Against Evil
Respect for Legitimate Governments
Government by Divine Law
Consideration for the People
Leadership by Example and Honest Government
Judgments and Punishments
Providence and the Mandate of Heaven
CHAPTER 21: Eschatology and Messianic Hope
The Last Judgment
The Messiah
The Kingdom of Heaven
IRF material (c) Copyright 1991
World Scripture
World Scripture contains over 4000 scriptural passages from 268 sacred texts and 55 oral
traditions. It is organized in terms of 164 different themes common to all traditions. This text is
the result of a five-year project involving the collaboration of an international team of 40
recognized scholars representing all the major religions of the world. This archive contains the
complete text of the original hardbound version.
A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts
A Project of the
International Religious Foundation
Paragon House
New York
Published in the United States by
International Religious Foundation
4 West 43rd Street
New York, New York 10036
Distributed by
Paragon House Publishers
2700 University Av. West, Suite 200
St. Paul, MN 55114
Phone: (612) 644-3087 or 1-877-PHPBook
See our web site at
Copyright (c) 1991 by International Religious Foundation
Separate sources of copyright material includes in this volume are noted in Acknowledgements,
p. 799. None of this material may be reprinted except by permission of the owners of the original
The International Religious Foundation is dedicated to the promotion of world peace through
interreligious dialogue and cooperation. This volume reflects the emerging confluence of
religious traditions on the basis of interreligious, interdisciplinary, and intercultural exchanges.
All rights reserved. Except for use in reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in
a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, or
otherwise, without prior written consent of the publisher.
World scripture/preface by Ninian Smart; editor, Andrew Wilson.
928 p.
Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
ISBN 0-89226-129-3 1. Religions - Quotations, maxims, etc.
I. Wilson, Andrew
BL 29.263 1991
291.8--DC20 91-14350
The illustrations in this volume are (c) by David Hose
Jacket design (c) by Teresa Bonner, 1991
World Scripture
This HTTP archive was created in November 1994 by Bruce Schuman ([email protected]), with
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Paul Woodworth reformatted chapters 16 - 20, and Bruce Schuman did the remainder. Please let
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[email protected]
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World Scripture
EDITOR: Andrew Wilson
FOREWORD: Ninian Smart
Savas C. Agourides
Bhagchandra Jain Bhaskar
Chu-hsien Chen
Bernard Rex Davis
Fung Hu-hsiang
Emanuel S. Goldsmith
Raymond Hammer
Frederick Jelly, O.P.
Inamullah Khan
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Ahmad Kuftaro
Byong Joo Lee
H. K. Mirza
Hajime Nakamura
Kofi Asare Opoku
Yasur Nuri Ozturk
Jordan Paper
Pahalawattage Don Premasiri
K. B. Ramakrishna Rao
K. L. Seshagiri Rao
Samdhong L. Tenzin Rinpoche
Losang Norbu Shastri
Shivamurthy Shivacharya Mahaswamiji
Antonio Silvestrelli
Avtar Singh
Giani Naranjan Singh
Huston Smith
Savas C. Agourides
Professor of New Testament
School of Theology
University of Athens
Athens, Greece
(Christianity, Orthodox)
Bhagchandra Jain Bhaskar
Professor and Head
Department of Pali and Prakrit
Nagpur University
Nagpur, India
Sister Maura Campbell
Professor of Religious Studies
Caldwell College
Caldwell, New Jersey
(Christianity, Roman Catholic)
Dr. Chu-hsien Chen
Hamburg, Germany
(Chinese Religions)
Canon Bernard Rex Davis
Subdean, Lincoln Cathedral
Lincoln, United Kingdom
(Christianity, Protestant)
Dr. Homi B. Dhalla
Lecturer, B.J.P.C. Institute
Bombay, India
Dr. Paul B. Fenton
University of Lyon
Lyon, France
Dr. Betty J. Fisher
General Editor
Baha'i Publishing Trust
Wilmette, Illinois
(Baha'i Faith)
Fung Hu-hsiang
Professor of Philosophy and Dean
College of Liberal Arts
National Central University
Taiwan, Republic of China
Rabbi Dr. Emanuel S. Goldsmith
Associate Professor of Jewish Studies
Queens College of the City
University of New York
Flushing, New York
Rev. Canon Dr. Raymond J. Hammer
Anglican Interfaith Consultants
London, United Kingdom
Former Canon of Kobe Cathedral
Kobe, Japan
(Japanese Religions)
Institute for the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Sermons and Speeches
Sung Hwa University
Chonan, Korea
(Unification Church)
Rev. Dr. Frederick Jelly, O.P.
Dean of Studies
Mount St. Mary's Seminary
Emmitsburg, Maryland
(Christianity, Roman Catholic)
Jay E. Jensen
Director, Scriptures Coordination
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Salt Lake City, Utah
(Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
Dr. Inamullah Khan
Secretary General
World Muslim Congress
Karachi, Pakistan
Dr. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
President, The Islamic Centre
New Dehli, India
Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Kuftaro
Grand Mufti of Syria
Damascus, Syria
Dr.Byong Joo Lee
Chairman, Chung Hyun Seo Wun
Senior Committee Member
Sung Kyun National Confucian University
Seoul, Korea
Prof. Gobind Singh Mansukhani
Sikh Council for Interfaith Relations
London, England
H. K. Mirza
High Priest of the Parsis
Professor Emeritus of Zoroastrian Studies
Bombay, India
Hajime Nakamura
Professor of Religion Emeritus
Tokyo University
The Eastern Institute
Tokyo, Japan
Prof. Kofi Asare Opoku
Institute of African Studies
University of Ghana
Legon, Ghana
(African Traditional Religions)
Dr. Yasur Nuri Ozturk
Faculty of Theology
Marmara University
Religion Commentator
Hurriyet Newspaper
Istanbul, Turkey
Dr. Ryszard Pachocinski
Head, Department of Comparative Education
Institute for Educational Research
Warsaw, Poland
(African Traditional Religions)
Jordan Paper
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
York University
North York, Ontario, Canada
(Native American Religions)
Dr. Pahalawattage Don Premasiri
Department of Philosophy
University of Peradeniya
Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
(Theravada Buddhism)
K. B. Ramakrishna Rao
Professor and Head,
Department of Philosophy
Mysore University
Mysore, University
K. L. Seshagiri Rao
Professor of Religious Studies
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia
Gene Reeves
Professor of Theology
Meadville/Lombard Theological School
Chicago, Illinois
(Japanese New Religions)
Ven. Prof. Samdhong L. Tenzin, Rinpoche
Director, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies
Sarnath, Varanasi, India
(Tibetan Buddhism)
Rev. Losang Norbu Shastri
Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies
Sarnath, Varanasi, India
(Tibetan Buddhism)
Dr. Shivamurthy Shivacharya Mahaswamiji
Sri Taralabalu Jagadguru Brihanmath
Sirigere, India
(Lingayat Hinduism)
Monsignor Antonio Silvestrelli
Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith
Vatican City
(Christianity, Roman Catholic)
Dr. Avtar Singh
Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Religious Studies
Punjabi University
Patiala, India
Sant Giani Naranjan Singh
Guru Nanak Ashram
Patiala, India
Ninian Smart
J. F. Rowney Professor of Comparative Religions
University of California Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, California
(General Consultant)
Huston Smith
Thomas J. Watson Professor Emeritus of Religion
Syracuse University
Graduate Theological Union
Berkeley, California
(General Consultant)
Rev. Takahide Takahashi
The Eastern Institute
Tokyo, Japan
(Japanese Buddhism)
Kapil Tiwari
Professor of World Religions
Victoria University
Wellington, New Zealand
(South Pacific Traditional Religion)
Dr. David Manning White
President, Marlborough Publishing House
Richmond, Virginia
(World Spirituality)
World Scripture
Dr. Ninian Smart,
Chair, Dept. of Religious Studies,
University of California,
Santa Barbara
It is obvious that as we move into a world civilization, in which so many cultures and spiritual
traditions will impinge on one another, it is vital for us all to have an understanding of one
another. This does not necessarily mean agreement--how could it given the diversity of human
values evident in the world? But it can mean some growing convergence and complementarity
between the faiths, large and small, of our shrinking planet. It is therefore good to have sources
of comparison between traditions: and one obvious place to look is in the scriptures and sacred
writings of the various cultures.
Dr. Andrew Wilson supplies us here with an admirable assemblage of quotations from the holy
texts of the world. He approaches his systematic task from a broadly theistic angle. As he says in
his introduction, others (say, Buddhists) might prefer a different articulation of the material. As
he rightly points out, they should create their own books of world scripture. Our world is surely
hospitable to a variety of approaches. This way of treating the great traditions could be paralleled
by others. But I think that the consequence of his systematic arrangement of themes and texts is
that a logical and orderly way of looking at the wide range of material comes through. Dr.
Wilson therefore has put together a collection which is illuminating.
It is the kind of anthology which will be of interest in various areas. First there are those people
whose genuine concern for religion and spirituality will be further stimulated by having easy
access to so many scriptural traditions. Second there are many students of the comparative study
of religions or history of religions who may be able to use this book in the classroom and
beyond. Third there are many religious professionals, whether Christian or Muslim or Buddhist
or whatever, who will find this a good reference book.
After all, every tradition has in today's world to take account of the other traditions. What does
the Buddhist say about Christian theism? What does the Muslim say about Chinese traditions?
What does the theist say about non-theistic religions? These are vital questions, if men and
women in the world are to take both their own traditions and those of others seriously. This
anthology will help to guide their path and to spark questions. It is compiled in the spirit of
reverence for all spiritual paths. This is a needed spirit if we are to live at peace with one another.
That is not always easy: I would not underestimate the tensions which in actual society can occur
between sisters and brothers of apparently rival faiths. But gradually we shall overcome such
tensions, and learn to converse and argue gently with one another. An anthology such as this will
help such conversations.
I am therefore very glad that Dr. Wilson has taken so much trouble in bringing this book to
publication. We can all learn from one another.
Ninian Smart
J.F. Rowny Professor of Comparative Religions
University of California Santa Barbara
World Scripture
Andrew Wilson, Ph.D.
October 8, 1991
A Textbook to Promote World Peace
The Basis of Religious Unity in World Scripture
One God and Religious Pluralism
World Scripture and "Godism"
Ten Principles Common to All Religions
The Reformulation of Human Knowledge
This paper was delivered at a conference sponsored by the New Ecumenical Research
Association at Chateau de Bellinglise, Elincourt Ste-Marguerite, France, May 7-12, 1992.
Copyright International Religious Foundation.
This essay gives me an opportunity for reflection on the work which I have recently completed
as editor of World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts. This volume was
commissioned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon in 1985, and it required the cooperation and
assistance of more than forty scholars and religious leaders representing every tradition before it
was completed last summer. World Scripture is a substantial book: its 928 pages contain over
4,000 passages gathered from 268 sacred texts and 55 oral traditions. All the major religions, the
primal religions, and even the new religions are represented by their scriptures or sacred words.
The passages are arranged comparatively by gathering them around various topics (165 in all)
which cover all the significant issues of the religious life: God, the purpose of life, sin, salvation,
faith, prayer, self-denial, providence, prophecy, messianic hopes, etc. Poring over any of these
topics, the reader is immediately acquainted with the wisdom of all religions as they each deal
with these universal human concerns.
World Scripture was unveiled at the inaugural assembly of the Inter- Religious Federation for
World Peace [IRFWP] in Seoul, Korea on August 27, 1991. In his Founder's Address, the
Reverend Sun Myung Moon thanked the scholars and religious leaders who worked for the
publication of the book, and described it as a textbook for world peace.
Completed after five years of cooperative effort among scholars of religion and after review and
endorsement by heads of the world's religions, World Scripture will become a shining light, a
volume of holy scripture that puts together the universally valuable contents of the world's
religions. In particular, it will become a precious textbook for educating the younger generation
who are to live together as one global family. It will teach them to overcome barriers between
religions, between races, and between cultures. I believe that, through this text, all people will
not only free themselves from religious ignorance and self-righteousness, but also realize the fact
that, among religions, there are shared values and a universal foundation which are of greater
significance than the differences which have historically divided religions.
This essay will discuss how World Scripture may serve as a textbook to promote world peace
through interfaith understanding. The concept here is that all scripture has an educational
function, and that modern religious education must include an understanding of other religions
and an acceptance that they are legitimate ways. Furthermore, we can reflect upon some of the
larger implications of World Scripture and the program which it seeks to advance. First is the
claim that the religions of the world indeed show convergence to an organic unity. Is the
methodology of the book sound, so as not to prejudice this claim? If so, then is the convergence
of religions evidence for the existence of Absolute Reality? Then again, what is to become of the
particular genius of each religion? Is it ultimately submerged in a new uniformity? What is the
value of particularity in religion that it ought to be preserved? Next I wish to reflect on the role
of World Scripture in promoting what the Reverend Moon calls "Godism." This is the effort to
establish universal religious values which can become the basis for public discourse in a
democracy that is pluralistic and religious at the same time. Instead of dealing with the problem
of tolerance for religious minorities by banishing religion from the public square, the religions
should reform themselves to support inclusive religious values as the public values of
democracy. Finally, we make some remarks on the open-ended nature of this project, which will
ultimately involve unifying knowledge in all fields through the making of many books with a
similar holistic approach to that found in World Scripture.
A Textbook to Promote World Peace
Sacred scripture lies at the very heart of religion. As the standard of truth and bearer of the
founder's revelation, sacred scripture gives religion its stability and identity. As the starting point
of education, sacred scripture conserves cultural identity and is a basis for ethics. But sacred
scripture also promotes exclusivism and separateness. Based on a narrow-minded reading of
scripture, each religion can assert that it is the sole possessor of truth. For example, the scriptures
assert: "I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me" (John 14.6);
"I, Krishna, am the goal of the wise man, and I am the way" (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.12);
"Mohammed is the Messenger of God and the Seal of the Prophets" (Qur'an 33.40); "Outside the
Buddha's teaching there is no saint" (Dhammapada 254). Yet as long as the world remained
divided into discrete spheres of culture with little interchange among the different regions and
cultures, it was fitting that within each cultural sphere, its scriptures be affirmed as absolute and
their teachings as unique.
Today, however, progress in transportation and communication has brought all the peoples of the
world into close contact as members of one global village. There is the divine call, issuing from
many quarters, for the religions of the world to take responsibility for building world peace. This
will require mutual cooperation among the world's religions, races and nations to build a
harmonious family of humankind centered upon our Heavenly Parent, whether he is called Allah
or God or Krishna or Ultimate Reality. Therefore, each religion can no longer remain exclusively
focused on itself; it must take into account the legitimacy and validity of the other religions--and
of the truths embodied in the other religions' sacred scriptures.
In secular education, it is an accepted educational goal to teach about other nations and cultures
in order to dispel the ignorance and prejudice that could fuel nationalistic passions. Even from
elementary school, students study world history and world civilizations in addition to the history
and culture of their own nation. In this regard, religious education is far behind. With the
exception of courses in comparative religion, which are usually taught at secular universities and
not by the religious establishment, religious education is largely an insular enterprise. In the
modern global village, religions, no less than secular institutions, have the obligation to educate
people to understand and respect people belonging to different communities and holding
different beliefs.
Sacred scriptures are the chief textbooks for religious education. Yet these deal almost
exclusively with the truth of one's own faith, and encourage the impression that it is the sole
possessor of truth. New textbooks must be forthcoming for religious education that can change
this deficiency. But conventional world religions textbooks suffer in comparison to the primary
textbook, sacred scripture. They lack comparable authority and are relatively superficial. The
best way to learn about another religion is through an encounter with its living practitioners and
teachers, in dialogue and shared worship--and such interfaith encounters are becoming more
frequent all over the world. But another good way is by studying their sacred scriptures, with a
good commentary as a guide. In the scriptures of other faiths one finds texts comparable to one's
own scripture which treat the problems of human existence in a profound and authoritative
manner. One finds in another religion's scripture the original revelations and insights of the
founders that have made it compelling to millions of people.1
World Scripture can serve this educational purpose as a guide to the scriptures of other faiths. It
places passages from other scriptures side by side with passages from one's own sacred scripture.
Therefore, immediately, the student recognizes how the truth in his own scripture is reflected in
others, and sometimes is even illuminated by additional insights from the other faiths. The
thematic arrangement, besides providing an endless source of comparative material, also clues in
the student to the interpretation of difficult passages by providing a ready context. Of course,
occasionally additional explanations must be provided in order to prevent misunderstanding of
certain passages. As the student discovers gems of wisdom, some which may seem surprisingly
familiar, he is led to rethink such prejudiced opinions as: the scripture of his own faith is the sole
repository of truth (Christianity), or other scriptures have been mutilated and distorted (Islam).
He will also recognize the weakness of many of the common caricatures of other religions, for
instance the Christian view of Judaism as legalistic and lacking grace, or the western view of
Theravada Buddhism as a kind of atheistic humanism. As the student recognizes how many
teachings of his own faith are also reflected in the scriptures of other faiths, he will come to
respect and admire them as divinely inspired in their own right.
Inevitably, the goal of education for peace must inform World Scripture's editorial treatment of
certain passages of scripture which are often used to justify exclusivism and hostility to other
faiths. Such passages, for example: Jesus' curses on the Pharisees, the Quran's criticism of
hypocritical Jews, Sikhism's criticism of empty Hindu and Muslim rituals, or the Lotus Sutra's
criticism of Hinayana Buddhists as lacking in faith, are necessarily deemphasized. When seen in
the light of ecumenical reflection, such passages should be understood as typical prophetic
pronouncements by an inspired leader critical of the ossified institutions in his own community.
(None of them regarded himself as leading a separate religion; e.g., Jesus was speaking to the
Pharisees as a fellow Jew; Muhammad was addressing Jewish tribes who had been his allies;
Guru Nanak spoke as a Hindu to Hindus and a Muslim to Muslims; and the Lotus Sutra was
remarking on the faith of fellow Buddhists.) World Scripture notes that in every tradition, these
passages have been justly interpreted as warning against those same evils within the community
for which that scripture is authoritative. To turn them into a weapon with which to brand
outsiders does violence to their original intent. Thus, these passages are to be taken as criticism
of the corruption and hypocrisy which afflicts every religion, and they certainly cannot stand as
criticism of any religion at its best and most authentic.
Thus World Scripture is designed to serve as a textbook in the religious education curriculum of
every religion for promoting world peace. Every religion should give it the status of a "scripture"
in its own right, first because it contains excerpts from that religion's own scriptures, and second
because the comparable passages from the scriptures of other faiths are often of equal profundity
and worth. By directly comparing the scriptures of one's own religion with scriptures of other
faiths, World Scripture demarcates a common ground which people from each religion can
recognize for themselves and on their own terms. By downplaying prejudicial passages in
scripture, the book lifts up the things that make for peace. This approach can universally reduce
prejudice and open the doors to interreligious understanding and cooperation.
The Basis of Religious Unity in World Scripture
But do the religions in fact share much in common? Does World Scripture err in homogenizing
the different religions in order to arrive at a unity that is artificial? We were, of course, aware of
this pitfall, and made every effort to avoid it. The members of the Editorial Board and other
academic advisors were continually consulted in order to assure that their religions were
represented fairly and accurately. Where scripture passages with several different underlying
philosophies were judged to apply to the same topic, we prepared some explanation for the
introduction to each topic which would distinguish the various viewpoints in the following
passages. Sometimes, particular difficulties in interpretation are explained in a footnote. Thus
have we safeguarded against misrepresenting individual passages.
Yet modern opinion is prejudiced against viewing religions from the standpoint of their unity.
Most textbooks on world religions treat each religion as a separate, independent entity, thus
inevitably emphasizing each religion's uniqueness. Western education is pervaded by
nominalism and relativism: by a habitual failure to move beyond the minute examination of
isolated facts to reveal larger wholes and a disinclination to trust universal patterns. Of course, at
a certain level of detail, when doctrines are examined closely, every religion is different, even
every sect and denomination has its own unique version of truth. Yet from a wider, holistic
perspective, we can see convergence and common values.
Without denying the unique aspects of each religion, World Scripture underscores the universal
themes and insights that make up the common ground which religions share. World Scripture
demarks the common ground among religions through the range of passages which are gathered
for a given topic, and these topics have sufficient generality to accommodate various doctrines.
Thus the topic "Immortal Soul" gathers many doctrines on the survival of the soul after death,
including Hindu and Buddhist passages on reincarnation, Christian, Jewish and Islamic passages
on the resurrection, and various concepts of an afterlife. The topic "Karma and Inherited Sin"
includes various passages on the notion that inequities of endowment are conditioned by past
deeds, whether the notion is understood doctrinally as the working out of one's own karma
accumulated in previous lifetimes or as the inherited burden of an ancestor's sins. The topic
"Unitive State" includes various types of mystical union, including the impersonal unity of the
Self with Brahman in Vedanta, the Zen experience of mystical unity with all reality, and the
Christian Beatific vision. The generality of each topic depends on the fact that the various
doctrines all address a common human concern, be it the riddle of personal existence after death,
the problem of unequal endowments in a just cosmos, or the mystical experience of union with
Ultimate Reality. The criteria of human concern and experience provide broad fields for
comparison and natural meeting points for the particular doctrines which try to explicate them.
Furthermore, in preparing World Scripture we became painfully aware how much conventional
treatments of religion have created their own stereotypes by trying to place religions within
narrow dogmatic definitions. The variety of religious standpoints within Christianity alone is
staggering, from the Protestant fundamentalist to the Roman Catholic mystic, the spirit-filled
Pentecostal, and the Latin American liberation theologian. Other religions are just as broad.
Despite the specific insights of its theologians, it seems that religion as a human enterprise is
broad and diverse, taking forms corresponding to the wide variety of human temperaments and
needs. The scriptures of each religion contain a great variety of material, not all of it suited to a
single dogmatic interpretation. Lutheran Christianity must put up with the book of James.
Monistic Vedanta coexists with dualists who follow Samkhya philosophy and monotheistic
Shaivite and Vaishnavite sects--all of whom quote the same Vedas and Upanishads.2 Orthodox
Islam coexists with Sufi mystics who draw inspiration from the same Quran. Given this variety
within each religion, the overlap among religions is considerably greater that what might be
expected were religion a tight system of doctrines, uniformly held. The topical organization of
World Scripture allows the varieties of belief within religions to speak in their many voices.
World Scripture makes no attempt to write a systematic treatise on the unity of religions
according to some conceptual scheme--if that is even possible. Systematic theology necessarily
demands a conceptual unity that is only possible by reductive interpretation. They offer
conceptual statements which are said to apply universally, but there are precious few statements
that can apply to all religions. Rather, a wide variety of topics are laid out, and scriptures on that
topic are presented wherever appropriate. The variety of topics is great enough to accommodate
the different perspectives of the world's religions. Instead of a conceptual straitjacket, these
topics allow the natural affinities among religions to emerge wherever they will, whether it be in
the doctrine of God, or notions of sacrifice, or prophecy, or ethics. Looking at the wide variety of
topics in World Scripture, we can see that the various religions concur on about eighty percent of
them. Our conviction is this: instead of insisting on a religion's uniqueness on the basis of the 20
percent where it differs from the others, let's celebrate the common ground on the basis of the 80
percent which is shared. The fact is, by using a reasonably objective methodology, World
Scripture reveals a remarkable amount of convergence. Why this is so deserves an explanation.
If the religions were only relative expressions of a malleable human nature, then their areas of
agreement should be few. From a human viewpoint, people have held every sort of opinion about
the concerns of life, yet the standpoints of the sacred scriptures are more selective. The scriptures
praise as virtuous and condemn as sinful the same sorts of human behaviors. Many respectable
philosophical positions are absent from the options offered in the various sacred scriptures, e.g.,
utilitarianism, hedonism, materialism, legalism. They are nearly unanimous in affirming
positions which are at variance with much modern opinion on such contentious questions as the
existence of an afterlife and the virtue of self-denial.
One God and Religious Pluralism
The explanation for the rather remarkable convergence of scriptural texts found in this volume
may lie in the fact that all religions ground human existence in a transcendent reality, be it called
by many names and described as many things. Human beings are not autonomous; their
existence is somehow dependent and subject to a Reality greater than themselves. Many
believers take it as axiomatic that all religions share a common source in the one God. The
doctrine of the unity of God would require an incipient unity of religions.
Yet notions of God are so diverse among religions that it is difficult to make meaningful
statements that would universally apply. How can the personal, gracious God of Christianity be
related to the Hindu Brahman who is the impersonal ground of all being, or to the Buddhist
ultimate goal of Nirvana or Emptiness which has nothing at all to do with the world of being?
Here, perhaps, we made the most significant methodological move in setting up the plan of
World Scripture. We made it axiomatic that the religions' various depictions of an ultimate-whether personal or impersonal, being or nonbeing, one God or many spirits, divine law or mindessence, Christ or Krishna--are all in fact denoting one Ultimate Reality or God.
This starting point means that World Scripture has no need classify the various notions of God,
as though each religion had a different God. Instead, we have set up topics according to the
various attributes of God and the ways in which the ultimate principle impinges on the world.
And as expected, it turns out that the scriptures of most religions have passages which apply to
most of the topics. For example, the attribute of eternity applies to the Christian God as well as to
Buddhist Nirvana; the attribute of goodness applies to Allah, to the cosmic Buddha, and to the
collectivity of kami in the Shinto pantheon; and the Oneness of ultimate reality is affirmed by
Jews, Christians, Muslims and Sikhs, but also in the Buddhist doctrine of Suchness and the
Hindu doctrine that all the gods are manifestations of the One Being.
I do not believe that our starting postulate--to treat all expressions of an ultimate as denoting the
same Ultimate Reality--is sufficient to explain the phenomenon of the convergence of scriptural
texts found in this book. Their convergence is not the artificial result of method. The
convergence goes far beyond statements about God and reaches into all aspects of human life.
Our starting postulate, far from prejudicing the case by creating a circular argument, is rather
dictated by the facts at hand. It is a reasonable hypothesis which makes sense of a great deal of
otherwise disconnected data. As in any scientific method, if a hypothesis has the power to
explain and bring order to otherwise inexplicable facts, we may take it as true for the purpose of
arriving at a theory. Finding the convergence of religions to be an empirical fact thus makes a
theoretical case for the existence of one God.
The remarkable convergence of scriptural texts demonstrated by this volume may also be taken
as empirical evidence for a universal spiritual truth which is variously reflected in the doctrines
of all religions. Yet World Scripture in no way demands that the reader abandon the unique
perspective of his or her own religion in order to assent to a common truth, because the scriptures
themselves make no such demand. The scriptures call us to a decision, to embrace God's grace
and accept a spiritual discipline through one of the particular forms available to us. One must go
through a particular door, or none at all. Religious wisdom is often opaque and contrary to the
world. It is only through the practice of one's particular faith that one comes to recognize the
truth of the statements in scripture. Having cultivated a religious mentality in one faith, one can,
by extension, also see the wisdom of analogous statements in the scriptures of other faiths.
Religious dilettantism is never advisable. The experience of interfaith dialogue has taught us that
to truly understand another religion, one should first be deeply committed to one's own faith and
Likewise, in the chapter comparing the lives and works of the founders of the world's religions,
World Scripture is reluctant to level them all to figures of equal significance. It is expected that
everyone who comes to World Scripture is already devoted to one founder alone, who
established the faith in which he believes and is the light of his salvation. Only on the standard of
that founder's life and works do statements about other founders derive any meaning.
For the Christian, it is the saving work of Christ alone that saves, not withstanding the
accomplishments of other founders, no matter how great they may be. Similarly, the Muslim's
faith is defined uniquely by the message of Muhammad, and the Buddhist's by the enlightenment
and teachings of Siddhartha. The committed believer is confronted with one individual as the
standard of truth and love who defines the true way.... Then, on that foundation, he may observe
the comparisons made in this chapter. He may find that the founders of other faiths have also
been given insight into divine truth and have lived out that truth in an exemplary manner. He
may regard them worthy of respect, if he finds that their faith is comparable to the standard of
faith set by his own tradition.3
World Scripture and "Godism"
Godism is the Reverend Moon's term for a universal religious perspective, embracing the truths
of all religions, a perspective which he believes will become the basis for a God- centered,
pluralistic society, nation, and world. Yet to many, this vision may seem like a contradiction.
Until now, religious-based societies have acted in ways which are incompatible with democracy
and pluralism. This is due in large part to the current limitations of religions, which tend to be
exclusive and intolerant. Any at tempt to establish a particular religious orthodoxy would
inevitably trample on the rights of religious minorities. For this reason, American democracy set
up a wall of separation between church and state. Democratic societies have been able to
accommodate religious pluralism only by establishing a secular common ground, fostering
civility at the sacrifice of religious belief.
But what a cost that is! Society devoid of religious values does not provide the nourishment that
can sustain a civilization that will bring out the highest qualities in people and allow them to
fulfill their purpose in life. For example, our public schools have lost their mission to provide
ethics and values to young people, since the most important ground of those values--religious
truth--has been made off limits. Parents who appreciate traditional values find themselves
fighting a losing battle to stem the tide of secular culture which impinges on young people's
consciousness through television, popular music, pressure from their peers, public schools--ways
that are impossible to contain. Confused about values, young people easily become a prey to
destructive lifestyles. Hence democratic societies are in crisis, without any solution in sight.
Yet we cannot go backward and restore Christian values if this would deny an equal place for
other religions. Even the values of Western civilization as a whole, which are largely Christian,
are under attack by the proponents of multiculturalism. "What is especially valuable about
Western civilization?" they ask. America is a pluralistic society containing all cultures. Why is
European culture more important than the others? Appeals to tradition or democratic values
notwithstanding, the fundamental reason is that Western civilization has been the carrier of
Christianity and Christian values. But that argument has been ruled out of bounds for secular
discourse. Thus education for values continues to decline.
People will reject religious teachings so long as they lead in practice to hostility and exclusivism.
But secular values have also failed, and we witness the corruption and debasing of democratic
culture. Furthermore, secular society fosters its own brand of exclusivism that is felt by many
minorities to be oppressive. Along with its disdain for Christianity and its traditional values,
secularism also strips away at the traditions of minority cultures--African, Asian, Hispanic,
Native American--which are likewise rooted in religious worldviews.
Furthermore, as long as religions are divided, their truth claims incompatible with each other,
they will remain at an intellectual disadvantage in the contest with secularism, which is
undergirded by the universal canopy of scientific truth. As I have argued elsewhere, the
ascendancy of scientific thought is based in no small part to its claim to universal validity, and
the decline of religion is due in no small part to the private or communal nature of its opinions.4
One can surely argue that religious values are healthy for society, and that restoring them is the
key to overcoming our current moral and social problems. Yet those who long for a return of
religious values will most likely remain frustrated so long as they remain within the narrow
perspective of their own religious and cultural fortresses. The conventional Christian churches,
despite their popularity, have not as yet overcome their narrow and exclusivistic standpoints; the
same can be said for other religions. It is up to the religions themselves to establish common
ground and common cause--Liberal and Fundamentalist, Protestant and Catholic, Jew and
Muslim. The only way, in my opinion, for religious values to return to the center of public life is
for the individual religions to transcend their exclusivism and lift up the values which they share
in common. Commonly shared religious values can become public values, since they do not
favor any one religion over others. Such religious public values should support pluralism and
protect minorities better than secular values have done thus far.
The American experience is again instructive. Until the mid-twentieth century, the American
public consensus included the notion of "general truths" of religion which were distinct from the
doctrines of particular sects. Benjamin Franklin, like many of the founding fathers, believed that
the good public order of American democracy presumed a belief in God, in heavenly rewards
and punishments, and in the requirement to lead a moral life. From the beginning, universal
religious principles stood on a par with such Enlightenment principles as civil rights. The
Declaration of Independence declared both belief in God as Creator and the rights to life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness to be "self-evident" truths.
We can trace this notion of general religious truths to the Deism of Locke, Herbert, Voltaire and
Lessing, who were concerned to overcome the religious wars of Europe by setting up a rational
common ground. Although the tendency of Deism in Europe was towards a rational critique of
traditional religion and rejection of all its supernatural revelations and particular rituals, the strain
of Deism that took hold in America harmonized with the existence of particular sects. American
thought was most indebted to Locke, who taught that, in addition to the truths which could be
established by reason, there was also a place for mystery and revelation as genuine elements in
the Christian faith. The general religious truths established by reason set up the bounds of
religious discourse in the public square which lacked an established church, while the particular
tenets of faith could be taught by the individual churches. The Deist principles were broad and
flexible enough to allow, in the twentieth century, inclusion of Roman Catholicism and Judaism
into the public consensus.
But the relativism of the modern age has corroded the notion of self-evident universal truths, and
the rise of fundamentalisms has sharpened our sense of the diversity and contention among
religions. The enlarged field of world religions makes most eighteenth- century Deist statements
seem hopelessly parochial. Some new elucidation of a religious common ground is needed now
more than ever, if we are to build religious harmony and give a positive religious response to the
dominant secular worldview. Perhaps World Scripture can help us to restore some sense of the
common ground among religions by showing that common ground to be an empirical fact.
From the perspective of the common religious values found in World Scripture, the recent liberal
fascination with secularism and materialism (in either its eastern or western forms) seems quite
radical. It is out of step with the traditional values and viewpoints of all of the religions and
cultures which have occupied this planet for millennia. It is likely that the religions of the world
share more in common with each other than they do with the secular humanist and materialist
Based on the vast area of agreement among the scriptures found in this volume, one might wish
to deduce a set of universal principles common to all religions. However, the overlap among the
scriptures is rather loose and distributed over a wide variety of topics, and we would not expect
all the religions to agree on every point. A list based on the areas of agreement empirically
determined by World Scripture turns out to be more extensive and more detailed than the older
Deist lists established by rational argument.5 The list requires additional generalization and
alternative forms of expression in order to accommodate the perspectives found in the nonChristian religions. I suggest the following ten points:
1. There exists an Ultimate Reality, or transcendent God, which defines the purpose
and meaning of life, and to which human beings are related.6
2. The universe is moral and purposeful, human beings are subject to spiritual laws,
and each person reaps the fruit of his or her deeds.
3. Each person has an eternal destiny, a life hereafter; the cosmos includes various
spiritual realms.
4. There is a highest goal (salvation, enlightenment, liberation, wholeness) which is
potentially within the reach of every person.
5. Human beings are tarnished by an evil condition that prevents people from
reaching the highest goal unaided.7
6. Each person is free and responsible for his or her personal growth, yet can never
fully realize that freedom unless the aforementioned condition of evil is dealt
7. Each person has ethical obligations in the contexts of family, society, and the
natural world.
8. To become a moral person, one should train oneself to control the body and
practice self-denial.
9. The way of goodness includes an ethic of love and self-sacrifice.
10. The fullness of spiritual truth goes beyond this common ground and includes the
teachings of the historical religions. Knowledge of Ultimate Reality and the path
to salvation comes to us through the unique founders of religion, who were given
insights and revelations transcending ordinary knowledge attainable through
reason alone.
These ten principles can be seen to hold in all religions. The fifth principle, on the existence of
innate evil, goes well beyond the typical Deist viewpoint, yet it finds empirical support in
numerous scriptural texts. The tenth principle assures that such universal principles remain only
a common ground and do not become a regulative or critical principle over against the diversity
and uniqueness of religion. Indeed, while such a set of principles may be a reasonable starting
point, it can in no way encompass the full extent of universal truth. The sacred scriptures and the
revelations to the founders of the various world religions have much more to teach us.
Godism is the name given to the project of establishing the common ground among religions and
making it the basis for a God-centered, pluralistic society. Godism is not a particular philosophy
or set of doctrines. It is rather a program for reforming and reviving society based on the existing
traditional religions and value systems. It will require that the various religions realize harmony
in practice and find common cause in articulating solutions to social problems. On that
foundation, people will be able to recognize the common spiritual values which are testified to
by the various religions. Contemporary relativism will give way to a budding moral consensus. It
will then become practical for democratic society to adopt such values as the basis for pluralistic
What is distinctive about Godism is only its standpoint towards religion and its view of the
mission of religion (and by extension, of the role of isms and ideologies in other fields). Its
standpoint is Copernican, in the sense that this term is used by the theologian John Hick: refusing
to absolutize any one religion and recognizing all religions as revolving about a single
transcendent and absolute Center, whom some call God. Yet the content of the Absolute cannot
be known absolutely, except perhaps by those who live in God's absolute love, but how can their
insights be fully communicated? For the rest of us, God can only be known in part: through
individual illumination of the conscience and through the various ways in which the religions
have separately revealed him. The way to personal illumination and salvation requires a serious
commitment to one's own tradition; shallow religious dilettantism is of little value. The religions
should be humble to God and accept that God may also have revealed unique aspects of himself
in other faiths.
Godism's view of the mission of religion is historical and providential, recognizing that in the
present age religions are called to fulfill a mission that is greater than what they had known in the
past. That mission is to realize world peace in the new context of the global village. It requires
each religious community to revitalize itself and realize its highest ideals, and then to serve other
religious communities as part of a harmonious whole. The principle that love is fulfilled in the
service of others should extend to religious communities: each religion should manifest love by
serving other religions and working together to build a peaceful world.
Finally, Godism calls for the return of religion to the center of public life. The retreat of religion
into the private sphere must be reversed, and religious values must once again become public
values. Religious teachings should provide the ethical foundations which are fundamental to the
social, political, and economic spheres, where secular values have been found wanting. Once the
roadblock of religious dissension is overcome, religious unity can be the foundation for political
and economic unity, and world peace.
By illuminating the range of commonly shared religious values, World Scripture can thus help to
give definition and shape to what is potentially the new set of public values for a pluralistic,
God-centered world. That is, it helps give definition to the program of setting up Godism. It will
also be an important educational tool for realizing this program in practice.
The Reformulation of Human Knowledge
Let us, for a moment, venture one step further to define this common ground. Does
Enlightenment thought also have a place in the universe of common values that constitutes
Godism? The best insights of Western philosophy, from Socrates to Kierkegaard, are certainly
compatible with the common truths of religion. Just as World Scripture deemphasizes certain
hostile passages which, when understood by the mean-spirited, have fomented religious conflict,
the hostility and resentment against religion expressed by many Enlightenment thinkers will
likewise have to be digested. Hopefully, sober reflection will show that such sentiments are
directed properly against the abuse of religion and its failure to practice what it preaches, not
against religion in its essence. Believers and non- believers alike, when in touch with the best of
their original minds, can grasp complementary aspects of spiritual truths. The persuasive power
of Enlightenment philosophy is due in no small part to its grasp of such truths, sometimes better
than that of the corrupt churches of its day.
Yet it is an open question whether the welter of conflicting opinions in the universe of
philosophy can be brought into an organic synthesis, such as the synthesis found in World
Scripture. As was noted above, the remarkable convergence of religious beliefs may be largely
explained by the fact that all religions share the conviction that there exists an Ultimate Reality
on which human beings are dependent. But without such a unifying center, secular philosophies
are much more unruly. Therefore, we can expect that in the project of establishing common
values, the values upheld by philosophy will necessarily find their center in the values
established by religion. I expect that philosophies can be integrated into a framework of common
religious values, but they will be unable to establish such a common ground apart from religion.
As I said, I take the Reverend Moon's understanding of the project of Godism to extend beyond
the realm of religion. For twenty years he has been sponsoring the International Conference of
the Unity of the Sciences, which has as its purpose to promote the unity of scientific knowledge
around "absolute values," which I take to mean the transcendental truth of God, manifest in both
physical and spiritual laws, which we know only in part through existing science and religion.
For the Reverend Moon, the highest absolute value is God's love. The unity of the sciences
should have a spiritual central point, and the cosmos should be found to be regulated by both
spiritual and physical laws which have their common origin in God.
Likewise, at the Inaugural Assembly of the IRFWP in Seoul, Korea, at which World Scripture
was presented to the Reverend Moon, he spoke to an assembly which included former heads of
state and politicians who had come to attend a meeting of the Federation for World Peace [FWP]
the following day. To the mixed audience of religious leaders and politicians, he spoke of the
complementary roles of religion and politics in realizing world peace using the metaphor of mind
and body.
As mind and body unite within an ideal individual through God's true love, the mental and bodily
worlds which are extensions of the individual mind and body, should also come into a
harmonious relationship, not contradiction. Religion and philosophy represent the internal world
of mind; the bodily world is represented by politics and economics. Just as the mind is in the
subject and leading position, while the body is in the object position to harmonize with the mind,
religion and politics also should achieve harmony and unity in a subject-object relationship.
This is in accord with the prescription of Godism, which holds that religious unity provides the
central point and basis for unity in other fields. The other implication of these words is that the
mission of religion is indeed the most vital, since the religions hold the key to providing the
public values which can unify public discourse and thence undergird peace in all areas of
political and social life.
World Scripture is only one textbook for dealing with the problem of peace among religions.
There will undoubtedly be many others. In his Foreword, Ninian Smart encourages others to
write their own books of world scripture.
"World Scripture offers an admirable assemblage of quotations from the holy texts of the world
from a broadly theistic angle. Of course, others might prefer a different articulation of the
material... they should create their own books of world scripture. Our world is surely hospitable
to a variety of approaches."8
In a similar vein but more broadly, the Reverend Moon at the IRFWP meeting spoke about the
need for more such books to foster the unification of thoughts and values in every field.
"Why do we need books like this World Scripture? God's original purpose for theories is to make
for world peace. God's ultimate goal is one nation, one world under God. However, in the
present world there are many varieties of belief. The conventional viewpoint is that there must be
such variety in the world of religion, and likewise in the fields of politics and economics. How
can they be combined into one direction? This is the problem. God's final goal is absolutely one;
therefore all this must converge to absolutely one point. Among us here, how can we realize that
aim? Unless every religion, and every theory in the fields of politics, economics, etc., is
combined into one, making one direction, the world cannot have peace. Therefore, I want to
commend the making of World Scripture, and encourage more books like it."
World Scripture can be a model for other syntheses of human knowledge for establishing the
common ground of shared values upon which world peace can be realized. All such unifications
of thoughts and viewpoints will require a broadly synthetic approach that is respectful of every
viewpoint and lifts up what is valuable in each. They should eschew reductive theory-making
and analysis for the purpose of illuminating difference or for the purpose of pursuing one side of
a debate, as is the norm in conventional academic study. Furthermore, since this unity is centered
upon religious values, it should be axiomatic that there is a transcendent central point around
which the various thoughts can converge. While skeptical criticism can usefully expose partial or
false understandings of Ultimate Reality, if it tears away at the foundations of unity it is
counterproductive. True scholarship begins with humility toward the divine Mystery and seeks to
understand the place of theory in relation to it.
Books like World Scripture should collect the varieties of human reflection and considered
opinion and range them within an inclusive spectrum around the transcendental center. Each
distinct opinion relates to the others as one color, giving its own distinctive illumination to the
common human experience and its distinctive reflection of transcendent truth. If the light is
clear, the thought profound, then its contribution to the spectrum of ideas will be an
indispensable complement to the other lights. Such is the quality of the sacred scriptures of
humankind's religions as ranged forth in World Scripture- -they are full of illumination drawn
from the most profound sources of the human spirit.
1. The one example of a religion whose scripture also contains the scripture of another religion is
Christianity's appropriation of the Jewish Bible as its Old Testament. Given the horrible history
of Christian anti-Semitism, it may seem to contradict the thrust of this argument. But there are
several mitigating factors. The use to which the Christian Bible puts the Jewish scriptures is quite
different from what is being done in World Scripture. Perforce, the New Testament never went
through a systematic review to weed out hateful references to the Jews. And unlike the Christian
Bible, World Scripture includes the Talmud and other scriptures of rabbinic Judaism. In spite of
all the hatred of the past, it is nevertheless the case that most Christians have much greater
sympathy and understanding for Jews than they do for people of other religions.
2. For example the Bhagavad Gita, in its typically inconsistent manner, praises in turn meditation
(jnana yoga), good deeds (karma yoga) and devotion (bhakti yoga) each as the best way to reach
the absolute, superior to the others. The Gita is interpreted both from the standpoint of a personal
and an impersonal Godhead. It is full of dualistic Samkhya philosophy, yet a monist can quote
passages which speak of God as all in all. It is the supreme text of devotional Vaishnavite sects,
and also the favorite scripture of the social activist Mahatma Gandhi.
3. Andrew Wilson ed., World Scripture (New York: Paragon House,1991), 419-20.
4. See Andrew Wilson, "One Culture Centered upon God," Dialogue & Alliance, forthcoming.
5. For example, Herbert's list of the innate principles of natural religion, given in De Veritate: (1)
That God exists. (2) That God ought to be worshipped. (3) That the practice of virtue is the chief
part of the worship of God. (4) That men have always had an abhorrence of crime and are under
the obligation to repent of their sins. (5) That there will be rewards and punishments after death.
See James C. Livingston, Modern Christian Thought (New York: Macmillan, 1971), 36.
6. Theravada Buddhism lacks a creator-God, but it does have at least two absolute principles
which could fit this proposition: Nibbana, the ultimate state beyond all change, and the Dhamma,
the principle of causality that is binding on all beings. Nibbana defines life's highest goal, while
the Dhamma establishes the relations and conditions of human life.
7. By "aid" we mean either the salvation offered by a savior (Christ) or the guidance of one who
shows the way (Buddha, Muhammad, the sage in various traditions). In Hinduism, "aid" may
mean a rigorous program of meditation and renunciation, under the guidance of a teacher.
8. World Scripture, xi.
Transcribed to HTML by Bruce Schuman, January 15, 1996
World Scripture
Available in hardbound and paperback
The International Religious Foundation announces WORLD SCRIPTURE: A COMPARATIVE
This is an extraordinary reference work, representing a new, holistic approach to understanding
world religions. Commissioned in 1985, it required the labors of more than 40 scholars and
religious leaders from every faith. World Scripture compares passages from the sacred writings
of the world's great religions and all the significant issues of life: God, the purpose of life, sin,
salvation, and the spiritual path, and demonstrates the vastness of spiritual common ground.
Anyone who wishes to comprehend the variety of the world's religions and their inner
connectedness can benefit from World Scripture. Religious people should have a copy of World
Scripture in order to understand how the teachings of the world's religions connect to their own
faith. Through World Scripture, the world's religions can embrace and we can begin to build a
peaceful family of humankind.
You may purchase the World Scripture online at the Paragon House web site.
914 pages, hardcover, $40.00
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World Scripture
World Scripture gathers passages from the scriptures of the various religious traditions around
certain topics. Often these scriptural passages support a common theme; sometimes they
illuminate several contrasting positions on the topic. This method of organization allows each
topic to be addressed with the resources of many different traditions, often providing a broader
and deeper understanding of the topic than would be possible from the resources of a single
tradition. Each religion has much value to contribute to humankind's understanding of truth,
which transcends any particular expression.
All religions do not teach the same message. The contributors have provided passages which
fairly represent the main thrust of each religion's teachings. However, since the tenets of each
religion are taken out of their ordinary frame of reference, there is always the danger that they
might be misinterpreted. Therefore, it would be a mistake to read World Scripture as though it
were proclaiming a monolithic, universal teaching of all religions. Rather, the similarities and
common themes highlighted in this anthology should be viewed against each religion's
distinctive message. The reader is cautioned: until one takes the first step of understanding each
religion in its own distinctiveness, its contribution to the unity of religions is likely to be
misinterpreted. Many would also suggest that to truly understand another religion, one should
first be deeply committed to one's own faith and its traditions.
Granting the integrity of each religion, it is significant for the believer of one faith to find in
other faiths common teachings and common attitudes towards life, death, and ultimate ends.
First, there is the discovery that the transcendent Reality that is the ground of life in one's own
faith is also grounding the spiritual life of people whose faith stems from different revelations,
different revealers. This confirms and testifies to the oneness of God, the Ultimate Reality, who
appears in different guises from age to age and culture to culture. Second, the discovery that
people of other faiths are leading spiritual lives similar to one's own can promote tolerance of,
and respect for, other faiths. By understanding one another's religions in depth and with empathy,
people can find peaceful solutions to disputes which might otherwise degenerate into dangerous
conflict. Third, the teachings of another tradition may spark new insights into similar issues in
one's own life of faith. Indeed, if each religion is but a witness to the Truth that transcends its
particular expression, then all of them should contribute valuable insights to our understanding of
any question. Fourth, humankind needs to rediscover the spiritual foundations of values in order
to overcome the sterile, materialist outlooks and philosophies of our day. Despite both the
common moral values and the traditional spiritual wisdom found in all religions, persistent
squabbles among religions have served to discredit them, making universal values appear to be
relative and sectarian. The foundation of a pluralistic society--its cultural expressions, legal
system, and public schools--requires values that are grounded in the universal experience of
humankind, not just in the doctrines of one faith. Necessary to this foundation is testimony to the
universality of religious values such as found herein. Finally, a World Scripture can support a
world theology and guide us toward a unity of the world's peoples that is grounded in God.
World Scripture
The bulk of the material found in the World Scripture comes from the scriptures of the five
major living world religious traditions: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Chinese
religion (Confucianism and Taoism). There are also a considerable number of texts from the
smaller living religions: Judaism, Jainism, Sikhism, Shinto, and Zoroastrianism. Whenever these
religions have a word to say about any topic in the anthology, the contributors have provided
suitable passages. There are also a limited number of selections from the recorded prayers and
proverbs of the traditional religions of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the South Pacific, and
from some of the new religions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Texts from these
smaller religions, both traditional and contemporary, are included to acknowledge the diversity
of religious expression in the world today. These are all voices which should be heard. However,
one group of voices that is sometimes found in anthologies of religion has been omitted: since
World Scripture aims to promote harmony among living faiths, it does not include texts from the
dead religions of the past such as those of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and pre-Columbian
The texts in World Scripture have been deliberately restricted, wherever possible, to passages
from scripture. This distinguishes it from topical anthologies of religious wisdom which draw on
the writings of mystics, saints, and sages. Scripture may be regarded variously as direct
revelation from God or as the distilled insights received by the founder and his disciples. In
either case, it possesses a certain authority and priority as the fount of the religion. In scripture
we grasp the freshness of the original revelation. Through constant liturgical use, scriptural texts
are engraved in the hearts of believers. The laws in scripture provide the standard around which a
religion elaborates its cultural norms. It is to scripture that believers turn for inspiration and
revival in every age.
The definition of scripture and canon varies from one religion to another; in general each
religion's own definition of its canonical scriptures has been accepted as the criterion for this
anthology. The selection of a canon reflects both the usage of these texts by the religious
community and historical decisions by councils and groups as the religion grappled with its
identity and established norms of doctrine and practice. Through history and usage, the
community of believers settled on sacred texts which speak with enduring authority.
There are inevitable dissimilarities between the scriptures of religions with a tightly
circumscribed canon limited to texts used by the founder and his immediate disciples, e.g.,
Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, and the scriptures of religions with an open canon that includes
texts of many periods in the religion's history, e.g., Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism, and
Jainism. The scriptures of religions with a narrow canon are limited to one or a few books--the
Bible, the Qur'an, the Adi Granth--while the scriptures of religions with an open canon may
include hundreds of books: sutras, upanishads, agamas, shastras, puranas, tantras, and
commentaries. We have tried to preserve a balance among the number of passages cited for each
of the major religions. Fortunately, the various scriptures of religions with an open canon contain
considerable repetition, and hence a few representative passages can be culled for each topic.
The term "scripture" is used somewhat loosely for the inspired writings of the new religions
which may still live in the presence of the founder or his immediate disciples. Many of them
have distinctive texts, but some are too young to have settled on which of them are scripture; the
process of establishing a canon takes place only after a religion has had time to define its
boundaries and solidify its traditions.
We must further stretch the limits of what is considered scripture in order to include the
traditional religions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas, which have no written texts. What makes
scripture important is not the fact that it is written but that it is inspired and authoritative. In these
traditional religions, an authoritative body of tradition has been passed down from generation to
generation through words, symbols, and rituals. This body of tradition fulfills the function of
scripture by giving an account of, among other things, the nature of God, the origin of the world,
the duty of human beings, and human destiny. All the written scriptures of the major religions
began as oral traditions. We consider the enduring oral traditions of the traditional religions as
scripture in a broad sense, for they are written in the hearts of the practitioners of these faiths.
Another problem in dealing with scripture is that many of them cannot be adequately translated
into English. The manifold nuances of a scripture's original language can never be fully rendered
in translation. Furthermore, for those religions, including Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism, which
revere the language of their scriptures as sacred, the holiness of their scriptures can be conveyed
only in the sacred tongue. We must acknowledge, therefore, that the English translations of
scriptures in World Scripture are only interpretations which convey a pale reflection of the
original. We have sought translations which, whenever possible, satisfy two criteria: the
translator should himself or herself be a practitioner of the religion with a spiritual sensitivity to
the depth of the tradition, and the translator should have a good command of the English
language. In several cases where no English translation was available or where existing
translations were judged inadequate, new translations were commissioned.
In making their selections, the contributors have exercised discretion in seeking higher
expressions of the spirit and avoiding passages that are mean-spirited and offensive to other
religions. The scriptures of most religions contain passages attacking, and often misrepresenting,
the doctrines and practices of other religions. This is understandable in light of the conflicts
which most religions experienced in their youth against the older dominant religion. Sometimes
the older religion was in a corrupt form that was far removed from its own higher expressions.
Polemics attacking a priest, brahmin, mullah, or rabbi for hypocrisy could best be understood not
as a partisan attack on another religion, but rather as illuminating a universal problem of
religious people. But too often they have fostered prejudice and inhibited interreligious
understanding. Examples include: New Testament polemics against the Jews and the Mosaic
Law, the Qur'an's polemics against the Christian doctrine that Jesus is the Son of God, and the
Lotus Sutra's polemics against Theravada Buddhism as an inferior vehicle.
The topics around which the scripture passages are gathered have been selected as broadly
comprehensive of the concerns shared by many of the major religions. Certain topics that belong
to only one or two religions are omitted in favor of topics that can be construed to include several
distinct but related religious ideas. Thus, for example, there is no topic "resurrection," but
Christian and Muslim passages on resurrection are included under the broader topics The
Immortal Soul, Heaven, and Hell where they stand alongside passages from other religions on
the afterlife. While each religion has something to say about more than seventy percent of the
topics, certain themes are ignored or even rejected by some religions: for example, Jainism and
Buddhism say nothing about a God who is Creator. In those cases, the religion will not show any
passages on that topic. Sometimes counterexamples will be given, for example under the topic
Asceticism and Monasticism are several critiques of the practice. Furthermore, since many
passages are relevant to more than one topic, extensive cross-references are given in footnotes,
and a few key passages may be duplicated under several headings.
The organization of the topics follows generally the pattern of Christian systematic theology:
God and creation, evil and sin, salvation, ethics, and eschatology. But this outline has been
broadened by the inclusion of many non-Christian themes in order to include every topic
regarded as central by any of the world's religions. Some may object at this point that the World
Scripture has such a recognizably theistic perspective. Certainly the topics could have been
organized differently: for example, according to a Buddhist schema of the Four Noble Truths or
a Hindu schema of the several yogas or paths to Ultimate Reality.[1] There is at present no
recognized systematic theology of world religious knowledge. Some particular organizational
scheme had to be selected, and, whatever the organization, it would necessarily be more
congenial to one religion or another. To those whose religious understanding leads them to take
exception to the organizational scheme selected, we can only invite them to write their own
world scriptures from their own religious understandings and faith perspectives. By publicizing
the enduring worth and common testimonies of the scriptures of other faiths, all such
anthologies, whatever their perspectives, will contribute to the broad dialogue among religions
that will promote interreligious harmony.
Selecting the topics and assembling the passages for the World Scripture has required the efforts
of editors and advisors representing all of the major world religions. Some of them labored long
and hard to gather the texts which would best express the unique perspective of their religions.
Others gave invaluable reviews of the unfinished manuscript. Through this collaboration, we
have sought to ensure that the selection of topics and of scriptural passages will not reflect the
viewpoint of any one religion, but will indeed embrace the breadth and variety of religious
viewpoints in a balanced manner.
World Scripture
Judaism and Christianity --- Islam --- Zoroastrianism --- Hinduism --- Sikhism --- Jainism --Buddhism --- Confucianism --- Taoism --- Shinto --- African Traditional Religions --- Native
American Religions --- South Pacific Religions --- New Religions
At this point it is worthwhile to introduce the various religions and their scriptures which are
included in this anthology. We will proceed, geographically, from West to East.
Judaism and Christianity
Judaism and Christianity are two monotheistic, ethical religions which share a part of their
scriptures in common; the Bible or Tanakh of the Jews is the Old Testament of the Christians.
These religions share many common beliefs: (1) there is one God, (2) mighty and (3) good, (4)
the Creator, (5) who reveals His Word to man, and (6) answers prayers. Both Judaism and
Christianity make (7) a positive affirmation of the world as the arena of God's activity, (8) as the
place where people have an obligation to act ethically, and (9) which should be redeemed from
injustice. Both believe in (10) a future life, as well as a doctrine of resurrection. Finally, both
look to (11) a final consummation of history and (12) the realization of God's complete
sovereignty on earth, through the coming of a Messiah or, in the case of modern forms of
Judaism, a Messianic age. Besides these similarities of doctrine, Christianity is bound to pay
special attention to Judaism because Jesus and his disciples were Jews. They lived as Jews; the
Jewish Bible was their Bible, and they criticized Jewish beliefs and practices as reformers from
within. Jesus' life and teachings are largely incomprehensible without an understanding of the
Judaism of his time.
Although Judaism and Christianity share many common elements in their beliefs, there are also
deep differences. First, for Judaism God is one and unique; for Christianity God is one in His
nature but there are three persons constituting the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Christians believe in Jesus, called Christ, the Messiah, who is the Incarnation of the second
person of the Trinity: therefore adoration is not given to man but to God who became man.
Salvation for mankind is entirely the gift of God, through the sacrifice of the second person of
the Trinity, who became man and suffered and died in his humanity and became alive again.
Christians believe in Christ and in his passion, death, and resurrection; they follow his teachings
and example; and after death they expect to share in his glorious resurrection. Judaism, for its
part, is no less conscious of God's grace, but it offers sanctification through membership in the
Jewish people and by regarding the scriptures as teaching and enjoining a life of holiness. For
Jews the Messiah has not yet come, and they still anticipate the coming of the Messiah or
Messianic age. Their future hope is an earthly vision of a world of peace and justice. The
Christian future hope is expressed by the doctrine of the Second Coming of Christ, when evil
will finally come to an end and the spiritual blessings already accomplished in Jesus Christ will
be manifested substantially in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Both Judaism and Christianity no longer practice the scriptural laws of animal sacrifices. But
while for Judaism the mitzvot, the ethical and ritual commandments of the Bible, remain
normative, and are elaborated in the Talmud as the halakah or requirements of life, Christianity
has regard only for the Bible's ethical teachings--i.e., the Ten Commandments. Christianity
emphasizes faith in Jesus Christ, who gives grace, empowerment, and guidance for living the
moral life.[2] Judaism teaches a life of holiness through performing mitzvot and emphasizes the
importance of adhering to the Bible's standards of social justice as laid down by the Prophets.
The two religions have also diverged on the meaning of the Fall of Man; Christianity affirms a
doctrine of Original Sin which is not emphasized in Judaism.
These deep differences extend to the way Judaism and Christianity regard their sacred writings.
Judaism regards its sacred books as the complete source for all the teachings which God requires
of his people for their welfare. For Christianity, the sacred books of Judaism, called the Old
Testament, are taken as a preparation for the final revelation that God would make through
Christ--a revelation that is written in the books of the New Testament.
Judaism's Bible or Tanakh is made up of the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nebi'im), and the
Writings (Ketuvim); its books were written over a period of more than thirteen hundred years of
Jewish history, from the time of Moses until several centuries before the common era. The center
of this scripture is the Torah, the Five Books of Moses. The book of Genesis contains stories of
creation, the Fall of Man, and the lives of the patriarchs Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and
Joseph. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy recount the Jews' liberation from slavery
in Egypt and the revealing of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Prophets include the books
of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings recounting the history of Israel in the days when it was
guided by its prophets, and Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Habakkuk, Jonah,
Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, etc., which record the words of individual prophets. Among the
Writings are the book of Psalms containing prayers and hymns; Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job
containing wise sayings, discourses on wisdom, and meditations on the human condition;
Lamentations mourning the destruction of the Temple; Song of Songs, where love poetry has
long been interpreted as describing the mystical relationship between God and Israel or God and
man; and Daniel with its stories of faith in the midst of persecution.
In addition to the Tanakh, a tradition of Oral Torah, passed down to the rabbis of the first several
centuries of the common era and codified in the Talmud, which is constituted by the Mishnah
and the Gemara, is authoritative for the observant Jew. One may regard the role of Talmud and
Midrash--early rabbinic interpretation of scripture--as providing the interpretative perspective for
a proper understanding of the Bible. While much of the Talmud and Midrash is devoted to
discussions and codifications of law, they also contain passages of universal spiritual and ethical
wisdom. The best known collection of the latter is a small tractate of the Mishnah called the Abot
or Sayings of the Fathers.[3] Beyond the Talmud and Midrash, Jewish tradition also hallows the
books of statutory prayers. The mystical treatise called the Zohar and several other works
together constitute the Kabbalah or mystical tradition which has canonical status for many Jews.
A number of theological works, notably The Guide for the Perplexed by Moses Maimonides
(1135-1204) and Shulhan Arukh by Joseph Caro (16th century) are also held in the highest
The Christian Bible includes the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament was the scripture
of Jesus and his followers who were themselves Jews. It is identical to the Jewish Bible but with
its books in a different order. Christians emphasize the prophetic books above all other parts of
the Old Testament, for they are seen to announce the advent of Jesus Christ.
Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bibles include a number of additional books, called deuterocanonical books, in the Old Testament. Notable among them are the wisdom books Sirach and
the Wisdom of Solomon, the stories of Tobit and Judith, and the history of the Maccabean revolt
with its stories glorifying martyrdom in I-IV Maccabees. These books circulated among Jews
during the last two centuries before Christ and were included in the Septuagint, the Greek
translation of the scriptures. The New Testament is written in Greek; the early Christians largely
spoke Greek; and they used the Septuagint as their Old Testament. But these books were not
included in the canon of Hebrew scriptures as fixed by the rabbis at Jamnia in 90 a.d. At the time
of the Protestant Reformation, when the Reformers returned to the Hebrew rabbinic text as their
standard, they omitted these books from their vernacular translations of the Bible--e.g., Luther's
Bible and the English King James Version. They are known to Protestants as the Apocrypha. The
Roman Catholic Church reaffirmed their status as holy scripture at the Council of Trent (15451603), and they remain part of the Orthodox scriptures as well. Most modern translations of the
Bible now include them.
The New Testament contains the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The first three
"synoptic gospels" have much in common, recording the life and sayings of Jesus, his death, and
resurrection. The Gospel of John provides a life of Christ who is portrayed as the mystical source
of salvation. The epistles by the apostles Paul, Peter, James, John, and others discuss matters of
theology, doctrine, faith, and morals for the early Church of the first century. Paul was the
foremost of the apostles, and his writings include the epistle to the Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians,
Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Other letters attributed to Paul, and which
certainly are indebted to his influence, include Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus,
and Hebrews. Acts of the Apostles is a history of the church from the first Pentecost to the
evangelical tours of Peter and Paul. The Book of Revelation gives a vision of the end of the
world and the Second Coming of Christ. All the books of the New Testament were written
within one hundred years of Jesus' death, although the final decision about which books would
be included or excluded from the New Testament canon did not come until the fourth century.
Islam is the third great monotheistic religion which traces its roots back to Abraham, and its
teachings show many continuities with the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Islam proclaims
Allah, the one God, the Creator, who is sovereign and good, who answers prayers, and who
works with mankind in history by calling prophets to proclaim God's word. There is a positive
affirmation of the world as God's creation and the arena where people are obligated to act
ethically. Islam offers only two choices for mankind: belief or unbelief, God or Satan, with the
result that they will attain either Paradise or the fire of hell.
For Islam, the prophets are God's intermediaries to humanity, and Muhammad (c. 570-632) is the
Seal of the Prophets. The prophets: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Moses, and many others
named and unnamed, delivered God's word to diverse peoples. They each had specific missions,
but their messages are ultimately one: submit the self to the will of God. Jesus is one of the
prophets--though titled Messiah, he has no distinctive messianic role in the sense that Christians
ascribe to him, nor is he in any sense divine. His message and purpose were consistent with those
of the prophets before and after him. The Qur'an, revealed to Muhammad, is the perfect and
accurate record of God's message by the prophets of every age.
Islam is a religion to be practiced, and five obligations are required of every Muslim--called the
Five Pillars: (1) confession of faith in God and in Muhammad as God's messenger, (2) daily
prayer at the five appointed times, (3) fasting during the month of Ramadan, (4) paying an almstax and giving charity to the poor, and (5) pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca and its sacred
shrine, the Kaaba. By fulfilling these obligations and remembering God often, the Muslim is
assured of God's favor both on earth and at the judgment.
Islam's basic scripture is the Qur'an, which was revealed by the angel Gabriel to the prophet
Muhammad, who according to tradition was unlettered. Gabriel recited its verses to Muhammad,
who in turn taught them to his followers who memorized them and wrote them down on leaves
and scraps of paper. They were gathered into the definitive text of the Qur'an within a generation
of the prophet's death. The Qur'an has 114 suras, arranged in order of decreasing length.[4]
Several interpretations of the Qur'an are available in English, but no true translation: the Qur'an
was revealed specifically in Arabic, and a translation into any other language cannot convey the
holiness of the Arabic Qur'an.
With regard to the authority of texts beyond the Qur'an, Islam is split into two large sects, Sunni
and Shiite. The many Sufi writings, so popular in the West, are not regarded as having the
authority of scripture in Islam.
Sunni Muslims revere the Sunnah, the teaching of Muhammad based upon hadith, the traditions
and sayings of the prophet Muhammad as recollected and transmitted by his companions. Most
of the hadith concern the specifics of Islamic law, but some concern matters of faith, morality,
and eschatology. The six great classical compilers of the Sunnah are: Bukhari, Muslim, Abu
Dawud, Tirmidhi, an-Nasa'i, and Ibn Majah--with Bukhari and Muslim the most authoritative.
These collections are the fruits of `ilm al-hadith, the Science of Tradition, which established
criteria for deciding the reliability of traditions, classifying them as "sound," "good," "weak," or
"infirm." The compilations by Bukhari and Muslim, and several secondary collections of hadith
based upon the six compilations, are available in English translation. Most notable among them
is The Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi, a slim collection of traditions which continues to inspire with
its concise expression of the heart of Islamic spirituality. Another authoritative tradition in Islam
which has been excerpted for this anthology is the biography of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq, the
Sirat Rasul Allah, which survives only in the version edited by his disciple Ibn Hisham.
The Shiite tradition in Islam has its own collections of hadith which differ only in minor details
from the Sunni collections, but these do not have the authority of the Sunnah and are not quoted
in this anthology. What most distinguishes Shiite Islam is its reverence for `Ali (d. 661), the sonin-law of Muhammad, who became the fourth Caliph and ruled the Muslim peoples for seven
years until his death as a martyr. `Ali is regarded as the perfect exemplar of Islam, and his
sermons and sayings are collected in the Nahjul Balagha. For Shiite Muslims the Nahjul Balagha
is a sacred scripture second only to the Qur'an.
The prophet Zarathustra (c. 1000 b.c.) is the founder of Zoroastrianism. Once the major religion
of ancient Persia, Zoroastrianism has had considerable influence on the thought of Christianity
and Islam. Yet despite its historical importance, today Zoroastrianism exists only as a remnant.
After suffering persecution and expulsion from Iran, the community of practicing Zoroastrians
has dwindled to less than one hundred thousand Parsis, most of whom live in the vicinity of
Bombay, India.
Contemporary Zoroastrians are monotheistic. They worship one God, Ahura Mazda, the Lord of
Wisdom, whose various aspects are personified in scripture as the archangels Good Mind,
Righteousness, Devotion, Dominion, and others. He is symbolized by the fire, which is at the
center of Zoroastrian ritual. Zoroastrianism teaches an ethical dualism; there is a constant battle
between a wholly good God and the powers of evil. This struggle occurs within the human breast
and necessitates the choice between good and evil. The soul is immortal, and each will receive
divine justice according to its deeds in life. But good and evil are not equal: God and Right will
ultimately triumph at the end of history. The good life is one of purity, virtue, industry, and
The scripture of Zoroastrianism is the Avesta. Among its books, the main liturgical text is called
the Yasna. At the core of the Yasna are the Gathas, hymns composed by Zarathustra and his
immediate followers, which make up chapters 28-34, 43-51, and 53 of the Yasna. They are at the
center of Zoroastrian worship. The other books of the Avesta include the Videvdad, a collection
of purificatory laws, the Visparad, a collection of ritual litanies to all spiritual lords, and the
Yasht, containing Zoroastrian epic literature. This anthology quotes selections mainly from the
Gathas. In selecting suitable translations of their allusive poetry, the editor has favored
translations which express their meaning for contemporary believers.
The Hindu religious tradition defies description by any simple list of doctrines and practices.
Some branches are monistic and see divinity as pervading all reality, some are largely dualistic
and posit reality as the interrelation of the divine Spirit (Purusha) and primordial material nature
(prakriti), some are monotheistic and revere a personal God, and still others worship the
Nameless and Formless God with many names and forms. A Hindu may worship God in the
form of Krishna or Shiva, or seek unity with the impersonal Brahman, yet he will regard all these
as symbols for one Ultimate Reality. Whether a Vedantist who sees Reality as impersonal or a
devotee of the Goddess Durga, he finds sanction for his views in the same scriptures. As it is
stated in the Rig Veda: "Truth is one, and the learned call it by many names."
If one might hazard a list of common features of Hindu faith and practice, it might include: (1)
Brahman or Ultimate Reality is both personal and impersonal and appears in many forms; (2) it
is accessible through a variety of paths (margas): knowledge (jnana yoga), devotion (bhakti
yoga), and action (karma yoga); and (3) it is realized by those sages who have attained union or
communion with that Reality. (4) On the other hand, creation and the phenomena of worldly life
are temporal and partial; they conceal the total Truth and its realization. (5) Hindus further hold
the doctrine of karma, which says that each thought, word, and action brings appropriate
recompense, thereby upholding the moral government and ultimate justice of the cosmos; and (6)
the doctrine of reincarnation, understood as a dreary round of continued suffering or a
continuous series of fresh opportunities to improve one's lot. Inequality of endowment and
fortune is explained as the working out of karma and not as the result of some discrimination by
God. Hindus also uphold (7) the authority of the Vedas; (8) the traditions of family and social
life, with its four stages of student, householder, spiritual seeker, and ascetic who renounces all
for the sake of spiritual progress and the welfare of all; (9) the four goals of life: righteousness
(dharma), economic wealth (artha), pleasure (kama), and spiritual freedom (moksha); and (10)
the validity and viability of the ideal social order and its attendant duties, which have
degenerated into the caste system. The many sects of Hinduism, with few exceptions, share these
features in common. Those Indian faiths which protested several of these features, such as
Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, soon became distinguished from the Hindu fold.
Hinduism's long tradition has produced many sacred works. The most ancient and authoritative
are the revealed literature (shruti): these are the Vedas that include the Samhitas, Brahmanas,
Aranyakas, and Upanishads.
The four Vedas, the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda, have been
transmitted orally from generation to generation for more than three thousand years. They are
written in verse and contain hymns, ritual formulae, chants, and prayers. An exact method of
traditional Vedic chanting has preserved most of the vedic hymns from corruption. Many of the
Vedic hymns are addressed to deified powers of nature which are understood as manifestations
of cosmic truth. Some refer to partaking of soma and the horse sacrifice, rituals that are rarely
practiced by modern Hindus. Nevertheless, a proper understanding of the ancient Vedas shows
them to contain all the essential elements of Hindu thought. It is those Vedic passages of eternal
relevance that are excerpted in this anthology. The Brahmanas are prose amplifications of the
Vedas. Two of them are quoted in this volume: the Sathapata Brahmana and the Tandya Maha
Brahmana. There are 108 Upanishads, composed at various times (900 b.c. to 200 b.c.); they
belong to one or another recension of the Vedas or Aranyakas. Etymologically, "upanishad"
means "sitting near," and the Upanishads record the philosophical and mystical teachings given
by the ancient sages as they sat surrounded by their disciples. The commentaries of Shankara (d.
750 a.d.) highlighted eleven principal Upanishads: the Isha, Kena, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka,
Mandukya, Aitareya, Taittiriya, Chandogya, Brihadaranyaka, and Svetasvatara. The Maitri
Upanishad is also regarded as significant by many authorities. A few Upanishads such as the
Svetasvatara may be interpreted in a predominantly monotheistic sense as teaching devotion to a
personal God, but the general trend of the Upanishads is to identify Reality as supra-personal
Brahman, who is "not this, not that"--beyond any particular description, and is one with the
Atman or universal Self residing in the heart of each person. They teach that liberation is to
realize the Atman within while transcending the ego-self that is identified with the psychophysical organism, its actions and desires. The most widely known Hindu scripture is the
Bhagavad Gita. Composed several centuries before the beginning of our era, it is but one book of
the great epic the Mahabharata. However, the authority and influence of the Bhagavad Gita is
such that it is usually raised to the status of an Upanishad. It has been called "India's favorite
Bible," and with its emphasis on selfless service it was a prime source of inspiration for
Mahatma Gandhi. Sharing many affinities with the older Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita
sanctions several paths for realizing the highest goal of life. But it is also distinctively
monotheistic, teaching that devotion (bhakti) is the supreme way to approach God and receive
His grace. Other later Hindu texts are called sacred traditions (smriti), of lesser authority than the
shruti. These include the great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Episodes from these
epics are familiar to every Indian school child, and they provide the themes of countless popular
dramas and movies. The Ramayana recounts the story of Rama, who is an avatar or incarnation
of Vishnu, and his wife Sita. It exalts the ideals of family life as superior to claims of rule and
wealth. Rama obeys his father even though it means giving up his kingdom and dwelling in the
forest. Then, when Sita is abducted by the evil demon-king Ravanna, Rama must go through
many trials until he can mount an expedition to defeat Ravanna and regain his wife. Sita's perfect
virtue is manifest as she faithfully goes into exile with Rama and later preserves her chastity
during the captivity under Ravanna. The Mahabharata recounts the civil war between the clan of
the Kauravas, led by the evil Duryodhana and his cohort Karna, against the Pandavas who are
championed by Arjuna and Krishna. Krishna is, like Rama, an avatar of Vishnu (the name used
by Vaishnavas to designate the One God) under human conditions and limitations, but in the
eleventh chapter of the Bhagavad Gita he reveals his transcendental form to Arjuna. Throughout
the epic the virtues of courage, devotion to duty, and right living are extolled. Another group of
smriti texts are the collections of dharma, duty or law as it relates to members of society. The
Laws of Manu is the most important of these, and we also include excerpts from the collections
of Narada, Vasishtha, and Apastamba. Regarding the laws in these collections, the editors have
chosen to avoid those controversial matters relating to the caste system. Despite the Vedic
origins of varnashrama dharma, the degenerate caste system is probably the one feature of
Hinduism which is repudiated by most modern Hindu reformers and intellectuals. This is in
keeping with the aim of World Scripture, to accentuate the positive features of religion. The
Puranas are medieval collections of laws, stories, and philosophy which largely reflect the
teachings of older scriptures but also illustrate them with concrete stories and examples. They are
enormously influential in the popular religious expressions of modern India. The most wellknown of these is the Srimad Bhagavatam or Bhagavata Purana, the scripture of Krishna's life
and teachings, his childhood exploits, and his love of the adoring cowherd girls, which is central
to the religion of Vaishnavite Hindus. Another Vaishnavite scripture, the Vishnu Purana,
contains a prophecy about Kalki, a future avatar. The Shiva Purana, Skanda Purana, and Linga
Purana are among the scriptures of Shaivism. The Garuda Purana and Matsya Purana contain
descriptions of the afterlife and the effects of karma on a person's destiny. The Markandeya
Purana contains a story of a king whose compassionate attitude closely resembles that of a
bodhisattva, and a description of the victory of the Goddess Durga, a popular Hindu deity. Many
other Puranas exist, and more are still being written, adding to the fascinating variety of India's
religious landscape. Tantras are manuals of religious practice. Tantrism in both Hinduism and
Buddhism uses yogic techniques, symbolic ritual, and the transmutation of ordinary desire in
order to transcend all desires by identification with Ultimate Reality. This last feature has given
Tantrism a scandalous reputation for purportedly licentious rites, but in fact all genuine Tantric
practice requires as a prerequisite mastery over ordinary desires by total ascetic self-control.
These texts are represented here by the Kularnava Tantra.
Hindu philosophers, saints, and poets have produced a voluminous literature which is largely
beyond the scope of an anthology limited to scripture. We mention the sutras, and their
commentaries laying out the six orthodox philosophical systems (darshanas): Vedanta (the
Brahma Sutra of Badarayana and commentaries by Shankara, Ramanuja, and Madhva), Yoga
(the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, Sankhya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, and Purva Mimansa. These texts
delve into specialized realms of philosophy; in large measure, the religious content of these
systems is already covered by the Vedas and Upanishads upon which they heavily draw.
We also cannot do justice to the literature of the medieval saints who expressed their devotion to
Shiva or Vishnu in dance, poems, and love songs in the vernacular languages of the many states
of India. In Tamil-nadu the Nayanars adored Shiva and the Alvars sang of Vishnu: chief among
them was Nammalvar who wrote of the devotee as a woman totally immersed in love with her
husband Vishnu. Of Hindi poets the foremost was Kabir, whose poetry joining Hindu and
Islamic Sufi concepts has become an enduring source of wisdom for all Indians; we meet some
of his verses as they have been incorporated in the Sikh scriptures. Others include Tulsidas, who
wrote the Hindi version of the Ramayana, and Jayadeva, whose Gita Govinda, a poem in
Sanskrit describing the love of Radha and Krishna, is widely performed in temple dances. These
and countless other saints continue to express the Hindu tradition in forms that are ever new.
Of these devotional movements, the Lingayats of Karnataka province in southwest India are
worthy of special mention because of their distinctive beliefs and reforming spirit. The
Virashaiva movement, founded by Basavanna (12th century a.d.), rejected the caste system,
disputed the authority of the Vedas, opposed image-worship, and taught a personal religion of
devotional monotheism that dispensed with temple and priesthood. Basavanna's reforms have
justly been compared to those of Martin Luther. His Vachanas are venerated as scripture.
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion with about twenty million adherents. It teaches devotion to
God and denial of egoism as the basis for the good life. A relatively modern religion, it was born
in the fifteenth century in the Punjab in northern India under the inspiration of Guru Nanak. He
and the four Gurus who followed him sought to cut through the differences between Hindus and
Muslims and among castes, teaching that inner intention and purity of devotion, not doctrine or
social status, are the measure of a person before God. Each of these Gurus spoke as a reformer
within his own community, as a Hindu among Hindus and a Muslim among Muslims; their
intention was to reform from within, though now they speak to us as founders of an independent
religion. For under the pressure of persecution, Sikhism developed under the last five Gurus into
a distinct religious community with its own code of conduct and distinctive forms of dress.
The writings of the first five Gurus were compiled by Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Guru, into the
Adi Granth. The tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, ended the succession of Gurus and invested the Adi
Granth as the Guru Granth Sahib, the eternal living Guru. Since then, the Guru Granth has been
the object of ultimate sanctity and the source of sacred inspiration; it is the highest authority for
the Sikhs.
The Adi Granth is a collection of verse compositions, grouped together into ragas, the musical
meters according to which they are sung. The pagination is standardized in the Punjabi text,
along with notation indicating which Guru authored the verse: M.1 indicates verses of Guru
Nanak; M.2, those of Guru Angad; M.3, those of Guru Amar Das; M.4, those of Guru Ram Das;
M.5, those of Guru Arjan Dev; and M.9, of Guru Tegh Bahadur. In line with the expansive spirit
of the Gurus, the Adi Granth also contains verses from Hindu and Muslim poets of that age such
as Kabir, Ravidas, Surdas, Farid, and Ramanand.
Jainism is the religion of about ten million people in India, with its own distinctive scriptures,
history, and a long philosophic tradition. Although a part of the greater Indian culture, Jainism,
like Buddhism, is a non-Vedic religious tradition, rejecting the authority of the Vedas,
Upanishads, and other Hindu scriptures and their deities. Noted for its rigorous asceticism, Jain
thought has influenced the greater Indian culture especially through its doctrine of ahimsa, noninjury to all living beings. Jainism teaches a strict doctrine of karma, which binds a person to
suffer rebirth and retribution for all evil actions. A person must therefore liberate himself or
herself from the fetters of karma by taking a vow of asceticism and thenceforth avoiding all
violence in deed, in word, and in thought. All passionate desire begets violence, and is itself the
result of the karmas of a deluded consciousness which must be eliminated. Jainism does not
accept a creator God or personal God; instead each person has within himself or herself the
potential to realize perfection and become a paramatman, a soul freed from all karmic fetters and
able to reach the highest point in the universe.
Mahavira, born Nataputta Vardhamana (599-527 b.c.), realized this perfection and became a
Tirthankara, the Fordfinder, who discovered the Path to salvation. A near contemporary of the
Buddha, he is twenty-fourth in a long succession of Tirthankaras extending back to
Rishabhadeva of the Vedic period.[5] Popular Jainism venerates him to the point of worshipping
him as a divine source of grace, thus adding a personal, devotional element absent from Jain
There are two branches of Jainism, divided over whether a monk may or may not wear clothing:
the Shvetambaras allow clothes and the Digambaras demand total nudity, as they each believe
was the practice of Mahavira.
The canon of Jain scriptures (agamas) begins with the sermons of Mahavira, written down by his
disciples in ancient languages of Ardhamagadhi and Shauraseni Prakrit, called Purvas. The
oldest of these, however, have been lost, and thence the two Jain communities reconstructed
different canons from the collections of surviving scriptures, now written in Prakrit and Sanskrit.
The scriptures according to the Shvetambara Jains are composed of twelve limbs (angas) and 34
subsidiary texts (angabahya). The first limb is the Acarangasutra, which contains laws for monks
and nuns and the most authoritative biography of Mahavira. The Sutrakritanga is the second limb
and contains Jain doctrines expounded through disputes with other Hindu and early Buddhist
teachings. Among the angabahya the best known is the Uttaradhyayana Sutra, an anthology of
dialogues and teachings believed to be the last sermon of the Mahavira, and the Kalpa Sutra,
containing biographies of the Jinas. Other scriptures of the Shvetambara canon include the
Upasakdasanga Sutra, Dashavaikalika Sutra, and Nandi Sutra.
The Digambara Jains believe that most of the original Purvas have been lost and dispute the
authenticity of the Shvetambara scriptures. To the small surviving portion of the ancient Purvas
they add a large number of scholastic expositions (anuyoga). These expositions constitute the
scriptures of the Digambara tradition. Among them are the writings of Kundakunda (1st century
a.d.): the Samayasara, Niyamasara, Pravacanasara, and Pancastikaya; the Anupreksa of
Kartikeya (2nd century a.d.), and the Samadhishataka of Pujyapada (6th century a.d.). The
Tattvarthasutra of Umasvati (2nd century a.d.) is a systematization of Jain doctrine into concise
aphorisms in the style of the Hindu Vedanta Sutras; its Digambara commentaries include the
Sarvarthasiddhi of Pujyapada, the Tattvartharajavartika of Akalanka (8th century a.d.), and the
Tattvarthaslokavartika of Vidyanandi (9th century a.d.). The Tattvarthasutra is recognized as
authoritative, with only minor differences, by both Digambara and Shvetambara sects. Another
exposition which is accepted by both sects is the Sanmatitarka by Siddhasena (5th century a.d.),
a treatise on logic concerned with establishing the simultaneous validity of several viewpoints on
reality. Surviving fragments of the Purvas spawned commentaries such as the Gomattasara of
Nemichandra (950 a.d.) and the Jayadhavala by Virasena (820 a.d.). Legends and biographies of
saints are found in the Adipurana of Jinasena (9th century a.d.); their praises are sung in the
Dvatrimshika of Siddhasena; while the Aptamimamsa of Samantabadhra (5th century a.d.) gives
philosophical arguments for the Jina's perfection, omniscience, and purity. The Mulacara of
Vattakera (2nd century a.d.) contains monastic rules comparable to those in the Acarangasutra,
while the Ratnakarandasravakacara of Samantabadhra and the Sagaradharmamrita of Ashadhara
(13th century a.d.) provide ethical instruction for lay people. This listing does not nearly exhaust
the selection of anuyoga cited herein. Among the extra-canonical works, we include several
passages from the Nitivakyamrita of Somadeva (10th century a.d.), a Jain classic on polity.
The Buddha, born Siddhartha Gautama (c. 581-501 b.c.)[6], taught in India, where Buddhism
flourished for nearly fifteen hundred years and where most of its basic scriptures were written.
There Buddhism evolved into many schools, of which two major branches survive: Theravada
Buddhism which spread to Sri Lanka and throughout Southeast Asia, and Mahayana Buddhism
which spread northward to Tibet, Mongolia, China, Korea, and Japan. Eventually Buddhism
would nearly disappear from India, and these two branches thence developed independently until
this present ecumenical age.
Theravada Buddhism, the "teaching of the elders," claims to preserve the original teaching of the
Buddha. It teaches the ideal of the arahant (Skt. arhat), one who has achieved liberation from all
fetters of selfhood and craving. The goal of liberation, Nibbana (Skt. Nirvana), can be reached
through self-purification and proper understanding of the Dhamma (Skt. Dharma), which is
specifically the Four Noble Truths: (1) all existence is dukkha, suffering: we must inevitably live
with things we dislike and separate from things we like; (2) suffering is due to grasping for
existence and craving (tanha) for the pleasures of sense and mind; (3) the cessation of suffering
comes with giving up all craving and grasping; and (4) the practice that leads to the cessation of
suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path. This path to salvation requires constant practice and
training; there is no appeal to divine grace.
More important than ascetic practices, which can be counterproductive by promoting a false
sense of pride, is the realization that the self has no reality; it is a mirage born of conditioning
and is, like the body, impermanent. As there is no self, also there is no God in the sense of a
Being with whom one could identify his Self (as in the Hindu Atman). Buddhism demotes the
Hindu deities to the level of spirits, conditioned by their own past lives as human beings and
hence liable at some time to be reborn; they are not yet liberated.
The path of the monk, who has abandoned ties with worldly life, greatly facilitates progress
towards the ultimate goal. Lay people generally pursue the more modest goal of gaining merit by
ethical living and contributing to the welfare of the order of monks. Yet the Theravada tradition
has its lay saints who achieved the highest meditative states and became wholly enlightened.
The Theravada scriptures are written in Pali, a language formerly of northwestern India; with the
advent of Buddhism Pali became the common language among the Buddhist monks of South
Asia. The canon of Theravada scriptures is called the Tipitaka (Skt. Tripitaka) or Three Baskets,
and they are divided as follows: the Vinaya Pitaka, collections of rules and precepts for the order
of monks; the Sutta Pitaka, discourses and dialogues of the Buddha; and the Abhidhamma
Pitaka, scholastic and philosophical treatises. Most of the passages selected from the Tipitaka for
this anthology are taken from the books of the second basket, the Sutta Pitaka.
The most well-known and widely quoted scripture among them is the Dhammapada or Verses of
Righteousness. A book of pithy sayings on Buddhist practice and ethics, it has been called the
Buddhist counterpart to the Bhagavad Gita, and it is a basic text for the education of school
children in Theravada Buddhist countries. Another basic text is the Khuddaka Patha or the Short
Section; it is layman's prayer book containing a simple catechism, precepts, and teachings. Three
other important books containing material stemming from the Buddha himself are the Sutta
Nipata, the Udana, and the Itivuttaka. They contain short, often rational teachings by the Buddha
about the way to the liberation on leading a life of balance and self-control, and condemnations
of prejudice and traditionalism. The Theragatha and Therigatha are verses describing the
experiences of early monks and nuns, and the Petavatthu is a book of stories of ghosts and
spirits: these are among the 15 books comprising the division (nikaya) of the Sutta Pitaka called
the Khuddaka Nikaya.
The remainder of the Sutta Pitaka contains texts organized by divisions: the Digha Nikaya, long,
mainly narrative discourses; the Majjhima Nikaya, medium length discourses on the application
of Buddhist teaching or dhamma; the Samyutta Nikaya, prescriptions on Buddhist life connected
by subject; and the Anguttara Nikaya, numerically arranged discourses.
Beyond the Pali Tipitaka are semi-canonical works of wide acceptance: from the Jataka stories of
Buddha's previous lives, the Visuddimagga or Path of Purification by Buddhaghosa, and the
Questions of King Milinda where the Greek King Menander (2nd century b.c.) inquires of the
Buddhist sage Nagasena. We have made use of the traditional biography of the Buddha, the
Buddhacarita by Ashvaghosha (c. 100).
Mahayana Buddhism, the Great Vehicle, is divided into many schools, each with its own favorite
scriptures. These schools concur with most of the fundamental doctrines found in Theravada
Buddhism (which it calls the shravaka-vehicle), including the doctrines of no-self and the
conditioned nature of worldly reality. But many Mahayana schools identify an eternal,
transcendent reality, Tathata (Suchness), the Truth or Law which governs this Universe. For the
enlightened, everything is considered as a manifestation of this Truth; within human beings it is
present as the Buddha Nature, the pure Mind, which is realized as one develops on the path to
Buddhahood. Suchness is by no means a Creator God in the sense of Western religions; from the
Buddhist point of view the word "God" is too often loaded with connotations from other
traditions to be helpful for understanding Buddhism. Nevertheless, we find that Mahayana
Buddhism contains doctrines of Ultimate Reality and grace that are absent from the doctrines of
the Theravada school.
In addition, Mahayana Buddhism teaches the ideal of the bodhisattva (the "Bodhisattvavehicle"), the man of great compassion who gives himself for the liberation of all beings. The
absence of the reality of self means that all things are interrelated and indivisible, hence the
salvation of the individual is inseparable from compassion for others. A third distinctive feature
of Mahayana Buddhism is that certain great Bodhisattvas, which we may regard as the symbolic
manifestations of the Buddha's perfections of wisdom, morality, charity, and compassion, are
worshipped on the popular level as spiritual benefactors. In popular Buddhism Kuan Yin (Jap.
Kannon; Skt. Avalokitesvara), Amitabha Buddha, Samantabhadra, and other Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas are worshipped and entreated for grace and succor.
The vast Mahayana collections of scriptures are written in Sanskrit and collected in Chinese and
Tibetan Tripitakas. Each of the several Mahayana schools of Buddhism venerates certain
particular canonical scriptures, supplemented by texts from the founders of the school. Yet
despite the proliferation of schools, all of them share a common core of belief and practice, and
hence there is much repetition in content among the various scriptures. Most Mahayanists also
accept the authority of the texts in the Pali canon.
Among the most beloved of Mahayana scriptures is the Lotus Sutra (Saddharma-Pundarika). It
teaches the doctrine of the One Vehicle, which promises that regardless of their particular sect
and way of Buddhist practice, all beings will surely attain Buddhahood. It contains the doctrine
of the eternal cosmic Buddha, whose abundant and universal grace is the source of this salvation.
Furthermore, the Buddha's salvation is available to all through faith in the Sutra--the emphasis on
faith has led some Christian scholars to liken the Lotus Sutra to the Gospel. This sutra is
especially central to the Chinese T'ien-t'ai (Jap. Tendai) school and the several sects inspired by
Nichiren (1222-1282) in Japan.
Buddhists of the Pure Land schools, including in Japan the Jodo Shu founded by Honen and the
Jodo Shinshu founded by Shinran, rely on the grace of Buddha Amitabha or Buddha Amitayus,
the Buddha of Infinite Light, to bring them into the Western Paradise (Sukhavati). Their total
reliance on grace, to the exclusion of human efforts which are condemned as a form of selfseeking, is comparable to Lutheran Protestantism. The scriptures of the Pure Land schools
include the two Sukhavativyuha Sutras, which describe the vows of Buddha Amitabha to lead all
people to that Pure Land, and the Meditation on Buddha Amitayus (Amitayur Dhyana Sutra).
The Garland Sutra (Avatamsaka Sutra) is the scripture of the Chinese Hua-yen (Jap. Kegon)
school. It is a vast collection full of rich imagery and containing a wide range of teachings.
Among them: Buddha is presented as a cosmic principle and a manifestation of that principle,
representing Enlightenment itself; all things, all causes, all effects, are interdependent and
interpenetrating and should not be regarded from a partial viewpoint; and the career of the
bodhisattva is represented as spanning ten stages of ever expanding awareness, inner peace, and
compassion for all other beings. The Gandhavyuha Sutra, the thirty-ninth book of the Garland
Sutra, sometimes stands on its own. It describes the journeys of a seeker who travels all over
India receiving religious advice from fifty-five teachers from all walks of life and ultimately
realizes the highest truth.
The sutras on the perfection of wisdom (prajnaparamita) are widely studied. This literature
comprises sutras of various lengths: from the short Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita-hridaya Sutra),
which takes up less than one page, to massive sutras in 18,000, 25,000 and 100,000 verses. The
earliest and most formative for all the wisdom schools is the Perfection of Wisdom in Eight
Thousand Lines (Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra), which deals with the doctrine of
Emptiness (Sunyata) and the path of the bodhisattva who "courses in perfect wisdom" to realize
the six perfections. Perhaps the most famous wisdom sutra is the Diamond Sutra (Vajracchedika
Prajnaparamita Sutra). Its brief and paradoxical utterances which confound ordinary logic lead
one to a deeper apprehension of Emptiness.
Out of this tradition arose the meditation (Chin. Ch'an, Jap. Zen) schools of Buddhism,
comprising those which teach a gradual enlightenment--the Japanese Soto Zen school--and those
which emphasize sudden enlightenment--the Rinzai school which was popularized in the West
by Suzuki Daisetzu. Ch'an was much influenced by Taoist naturalism, and this has shaped Zen
practice and the Zen ethos in Japan as well. The classic Chinese expression of Ch'an is the Sutra
of Hui Neng, also called the Platform Sutra, by Hui Neng the sixth Patriarch (638-713) and
founder of the school of sudden enlightenment. This sutra's main teaching is the identity of each
person's original mind with Buddha nature. Sudden Zen employs the koan. These are pithy and
paradoxical statements which teach emptiness by confounding the intellect, forcing the student
back on his own direct apprehension of Reality. The student may only gain entry into truth by
intuition, never by logic, and thence he may experience insight (Jap. satori) corresponding with
the Buddha's enlightenment. This anthology includes selections from the collection of koans
known as the Mumonkan or Gateless Gate. It is a commentary on a group of forty-eight koans
compiled by Wu-men Hui-k'ai (Jap. Mumon Ekai) of Sung dynasty China. The Lankavatara
Sutra is a philosophical source for much of Zen doctrine; it teaches that false discriminations of
subject and object occur because of the seeds of defilement which accumulate in the
subconscious mind; in reality all discriminated entities are empty; they are nothing but creations
of our mind.
A vast compendium of Buddhist teachings which is little known in the West is the
Mahaparinirvana Sutra, whose main theme is the Buddha nature which is full of compassion and
transcends the impermanent world of activity. Better known is the Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti,
in which a lay bodhisattva shows himself superior at argument and possessed of more
supernatural powers than a congregation of Buddha's greatest disciples. It teaches that one may
aspire to Buddhahood while living in the midst of the world--to be in the world but not of the
world. This teaching is fundamental to Nagarjuna's approach, where samsara and nirvana are
equated: in other words, nirvana is not a goal in the future but can be actualized in the present. In
the Surangama Sutra Buddha teaches one disciple who nearly falls into lust the way to control
the mind and hence to progress towards Enlightenment. In the Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala a
woman lay follower evinces deep insight as she teaches about the Original Mind which is
inherently free of defilement. The Golden Light Sutra (Suvarnaprabhasottama), popular in Japan,
includes teachings on political theory. The Sutra of Forty-two Sections is a popular ethical text
inspired by Theravada teachings.
In Tibet, the great teachers of Mahayana Buddhism: Nagarjuna, Shantideva, Aryadeva,
Vasubandhu, Dharmakirti, and others, are venerated as great bodhisattvas, and among Tibetan
Buddhists their writings are frequently quoted as scripture. The works of the founders of the four
traditions of Tibetan Buddhism: Gyalwa Longchenpa, Sakya Pandita, Milarepa, and Lama
Tsongkhapa, are also venerated. World Scripture includes excerpts from the works of the above
authorities which are available wholly or partly translated into English, in particular Nagarjuna's
Mulamadhyamaka Karika and Precious Garland and Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva's
Way of Life (Bodhisattvacharyavatara). Nagarjuna was a formidable logician who gave the
foundational philosophical expression to the doctrine of sunyata and to the identity of samsara
and nirvana. Shantideva's work expresses the ethic of the aspiring bodhisattva, who lives in the
world unattached to self while doing gracious deeds for the sake of others.
Buddhism in Tibet includes both orthodox Mahayana doctrine and esoteric Vajrayana doctrine
with its Tantric practices. Tantric practice, as in Hinduism, uses yogic techniques, symbolic
ritual, and the transmutation of ordinary desire in order to transcend all desires by identification
with Ultimate Reality. The Hevajra Tantra, Kalacakra Tantra, and Guhyasamaja Tantra are
excerpted here; also included is the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol) which contains
instructions for the soul on its journey into the next life.
The religious world of China can be described as a complex blending of many currents. The
indigenous religion, characterized by reverence for ancestors and striving for harmony with the
forces of nature, was elevated on the one side by the ethical ideals of Confucianism and on the
other by the mystical ideals of Taoism. With the introduction of Buddhism, which after some
conflict, harmonized with the older Chinese traditions, it could be said that the traditional
Chinese spirit became a blend of the Three Teachings (san chiao): Confucianism in matters of
education and ethics; Taoism in regard to personal enlightenment as well as when threatened by
sickness or bad fortune; and Buddhism in regard to death and the afterlife--these in addition to
the traditional sacrifices offered to the departed of the family and nature spirits. Modern western
influences on China, both through Christianity and Communism, have yet to be fully integrated
wit h this rich tradition. Because China's religious traditions are so interwoven in the Chinese
soul, it may be misleading to discuss Confucianism or Taoism as independent religions, though
this is how they are customarily treated in the West.
Confucianism is a system mainly of ethical relations, defining values of family life and the
administration of the state. It also incorporated the traditional Chinese veneration of ancestors
and engendered a cult of Confucius as the official patron of education and culture. Confucius
(551-479 b.c.) himself was a reformer who sought to lift up the most humane elements in
existing traditions of government and social life. He urged his students to pursue an ideal of
conduct, which he refereed to as the way of the gentleman or the superior man. The superior man
is sincere, filial toward his parents, loyal to his lord, adheres to social and religious forms (li),
practices reciprocity--the Golden Rule, and has a broad knowledge of culture. Most of all, he is
humane (jen) towards his relations, friends, and associates. Based on the obligations of filial
piety and the ethic of humaneness, society is ordered according to the Five Relations: sovereign
and subject, father and son, elder brother and younger brother, husband and wife, and friend and
friend. Yet it can hardly be said that China as a whole has always lived up to Confucius'
The ruler especially should be endowed with the virtues of the superior man, and rule by
example, rather than by force. A king who governs by raw force does not deserve the name. A
government that does not have the support of the people will lose the Mandate of Heaven and
will inevitably be overthrown; hence there can be justification for revolution.
Confucius said little about divinity, but Confucianism has a religious side with a deep reverence
for Heaven and Earth, whose powers regulate the flow of nature and influence human events.
The cosmology of yin and yang predates both Confucianism and Taoism, and is incorporated
into both. The ways of man should conform to the principles of the cosmos, or else they will be
frustrated. Therefore the Confucianist may consult the I Ching, divining the changes in these
natural forces in order to guide his life properly. There is profound respect for nature, for all the
myriad things partake of Principle that is also the basis for a sincere mind.
The canonical scriptures of Confucianism are the Five Classics and the Four Books. The Five
Classics are, with some exceptions, the ancient sources which Confucius himself studied, from
which he drew his teachings, and upon which he left his interpretive stamp. The Book of Songs
(Shih Ching) contains ritual and mythic odes, love songs, and songs describing political life of
China's ancient rulers from the tenth to seventh century b.c.e. The Book of History (Shu Ching)
contains speeches and decrees attributed to the early Chou dynasty (1122-722 b.c.), especially
surrounding the reigns of the Confucian culture heroes: Kings Wen and Wu and the Duke of
Chou. The Spring and Autumn Annals (Ch'un Ch'iu) are chronicles of the state of Lu. The Book
of Ritual (Li Chi) is a compilation of materials dealing with rites and proper social forms,
expressing the conviction that adherence to rules of social and ritual propriety is an outward
reflection of inner sincerity and uprightness.
The I Ching, (Book of Changes), is canonical for both Confucianism and Taoism, but of its many
ancient recensions only the version with Confucius' commentary survives as one of the Five
Classics. As mentioned above, the I Ching is traditionally used for divination; but its
commentaries imbue the book's oracles with Confucian values. Its yin-yang cosmology lies at
the root of a metaphysics that has been adopted by Confucianists and Taoists alike. Taoist
handbooks on the I Ching emphasize its use as a manual for divination, a guide for meditation
and spiritual growth, and as the foundation for systems of medicine, painting, and martial arts.
The Four Books were selected by the Neo-Confucianist scholar Ch'eng I (1032-1107). Together
with the commentary by Chu Hsi (1130-1200) they are the standard works of Confucian
orthodoxy and the core of traditional Chinese education. They are: the Analects (Lun y), a
collection of aphorisms by Confucius himself; the Great Learning (Ta hseh), a foundation text
for education; the Doctrine of the Mean (Chung Yung), a philosophical exposition of Confucian
thought;[7] and the Mencius, the work of Confucius' greatest successor (372-289 b.c.). In
addition to the Five Classics and the Four Books, we have included selections from the Classic
on Filial Piety and some passages on the life of Confucius from the classic of Chinese
historiography, the Shih Chi by Ssu-ma Ch'ien (c. 145-85 b.c.).
The Taoist viewpoint stands in a complementary relationship to Confucianism, emphasizing the
free and easy original nature of the individual, unsullied by social convention, against
Confucianism's strenuous efforts to mold society and its emphasis on social forms and ethical
norms. The two traditions have coexisted in a balance, complementing each other like male and
female, summer and winter, yang and yin. A Confucianist statesmen could retire to the country
and find joy in the natural aesthetic fostered by Taoism.
Taoism teaches that the way to a good society is not through educating man to society's norms,
but through stripping them away to arrive at a state of nature. The Taoist sages seek mystical
identification with the great pattern of nature, the impersonal Tao, through meditation and trance.
In attaining union with nature and its Tao, the sage becomes nameless, formless, and simple, yet
paradoxically gains the Tao's te, which may be translated "virtue" or "power." By doing nothing
(wu-wei) he attains everything because he will spontaneously unite with nature and find his own
original self. But to cling to human distinctions and to try and force a certain result is to go out of
harmony with the Tao and accomplish nothing. The ideal Taoist ruler should do nothing to
encourage wealth or power, for that would just lead to thievery and usurpation. Rather he should
"empty people's minds and fill their bellies" in a state of primitive simplicity.
The chief scripture of philosophical Taoism is the Tao Te Ching. It is attributed to the legendary
Taoist founder Lao Tzu, who is traditionally believed to have lived slightly before Confucius.
Written in a terse and cryptic style, it is difficult to translate, as the many divergent English
translations attest. The second Taoist scripture is the Chuang-tzu, whose earliest strata date from
the fourth century b.c. Its vivid imagery, in parables and metaphorical tales, contains the essence
of early Taoist thought.
A chief emphasis of Taoism is the pursuit of long life. In the popular mind, Taoist sages are
thought to have attained longevity and to have become virtually immortal. Institutional Taoism-in contrast to the philosophical Taoism of the texts described above--promoted systems of inner
hygiene that have become popular throughout the Orient: through proper diet and exercise and
by regulating breathing one opens the inner channels of the body to nature's vital forces. The
achievements of Chinese medicine and the various schools of martial arts are all practical
outgrowths of Taoism and rely upon Taoist science and metaphysics. Taoism also includes a vast
canon of mystical and ritual texts, most of them unavailable in English. There is a pantheon of
Taoist deities, immortals, and ancestors from whom people may seek favors and beseech
expiation for their sins. Taoist texts often emphasize divine rewards and punishments which
affect both one's lifespan and destiny in the hereafter. In this anthology, popular religious Taoism
is represented by two ethical tracts: the Treatise on Response and Retribution (T'ai-Shang KanYing P'ien) and the Tract of the Quiet Way (Yin Chih Wen).
Shinto is the indigenous religion of the Japanese people. It coexists with Confucianism and
Buddhism, and the three religions are intertwined, molding Japanese culture, ethics, and attitudes
towards life and death. Shinto is centered on the worship of the myriad deities called kami. The
kami embody what is numenous, or spiritual. They include the spirits embodied in natural
objects and phenomena--wind and thunder, sun, mountains, rivers and trees; ancestral and
guardian spirits of the nation and of its clans--especially the Imperial family; and the spirits of
national heroes and people who have contributed to civilization. Chief among the kami is
Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess and patron deity of Japan. In spite of this polymorphism, the kami
operate harmoniously for the world's benefit, and hence they are often regarded as a collective
whole and may be referred to by some authors as "God." Unlike western religions, there is not a
great distinction between man, nature, and the deities; man is endowed with life and spirit from
the kami and his ancestors, and finally he becomes a kami. The kami may be revered anywhere,
but most worship takes place in shrines, which are usually located in beautiful natural
surroundings. Through devotion to the kami, one can be united with them and attain the state of
having a bright, clear mind.
Shinto ethics stresses makoto, literally "roundedness," which connotes inner harmony and
sincerity. The good is found in sincerity of heart, good will, and cooperation. Evil is to possess
an evil heart, selfish desire and hatred, and to cause social discord. Thus, ethics is not defined by
a code of commandments; instead it is a matter of inner sincerity and harmonious human
The living Shinto faith is mediated by the shrines and the rituals performed there. Every home
has its kamidana, or god-shelf, which is the focus of daily offerings and worship. The local
shrine with its annual festival is the focus of the community. More important shrines are visited
on special occasions: weddings, New Year's Day, and public holidays. The kagura is danced at
the shrines by the miko, female attendants who are a survival of an earlier shamanistic heritage.
In Shinto outstanding personages, such as the Emperor, are regarded as ikigami, living kami-meaning that the divine is already manifested in them. It is wrong, however, to equate their status
with God in an absolute sense (a mistake that is sometimes made in speaking of the Emperor's
Shinto is not a religion mediated by written scriptures. Nevertheless, certain writings are central
to Shinto and embody its spirit. The classics of Shinto are the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki, which
contain the mythology of the kami, the founding of Japan and its imperial line, and the records of
the early emperors. Shinto ritual texts excerpted include Engishiki on purification and the
Kagura-uta, ritual dances. There are a number of oracles associated with Shinto shrines which
have wide influence. The Man'yoshu is a collection of poetry from the Nara period (700-1150).
Later sources of Shinto include poetry and didactic texts: One Hundred Poems about the World
(Yo no naka hyaku-shu) by Moritake Arakida (c. 1525), which has been called the "Analects of
the Ise Shrine" and is used in children's moral education; Divine Injunctions (Jingikun) by Ekken
Kiabara (1630-1714); Records of the Divine Wind (Shinpuki) by Mochimasa Hikita (ca. 1660);
One Hundred Poems on the Way of Death (Shido hyaku-shu) by Naokata Nakanishi (16431709); and One Hundred Poems on the Jeweled Spear (Tamaboko Hyaku-shu) by Norinaga
Motoori (1730-1801).
African Traditional Religions
There are more than one hundred million adherents of the various traditional religions of Africa,
North America, South America, Asia, and the South Pacific. While many of these religions are
restricted to village and tribal societies, others are vigorous in urban areas, where they offer
dimensions of the sacred in the midst of an industrializing society. Some are even expanding to
the status of world religions: the Yoruba religion, for example, has more than 30 million
adherents and has spread from its homeland in Nigeria to Brazil and the Caribbean where its
variants go by the names Candomble and Santeria.
African traditional religion shows belief in a Supreme Being, a transcendent Creator, who is at
the same time immanent in His or Her involvement in the lives of human beings and as the
Sustainer of the universe. African names for God are built on one or another of God's attributes:
as Creator he is called Nzame (Fang), Mu'umba (Swahili), Chineke (Igbo), Ngai (Gikuyu), and
Imana (Ruanda-Urundi); as the Supreme Being his name is Oludumare (Yoruba), Mawu (Ewe),
and Unkulu-Nkulu (Zulu). As Grandfather or Great Ancestor he is called Nana (Akan) and Ataa
Naa Nyonmo (Ga); among the Kalibari she is Opu Tamuno, Great Mother. As Orise (Yoruba) he
is the Source of All Being; as Yataa (Kono) and Nyinyi (Bamum) he is everywhere present;
Chukwu (Igbo) means Great Providence who determines destinies; Onyame (Akan, Ashanti)
means the One who Gives Fullness. As the Spirit of the universe he is Molimo (Bantu); as
Heaven or the Spirit of the sky he is called Nhialic (Dinka), Kwoth (Nuer), Soko (Nupe), Olorun
(Yoruba); and by the Igbo name Ama-ama-amasi-amasi he is Who is Never Fully Known.
Despite the many names and representations of God which vary from one part of Africa to
another, the people recognize that they all refer to one Supreme Being, whose dominion extends
through the length and breadth of the universe.
Below the Supreme Being, and more immediately felt as influencing human affairs, is a
constellation of subordinate deities and ancestral spirits. Human beings depend upon the
intercession and activity of good deities and spirits to protect them from disease and misfortunes
which are often caused by malevolent powers and spirits. Prayers, offerings, rituals, and an
ethical life help gain God's blessing and the assistance of good deities and ancestors. African
traditional religions also place great importance on the community. Members of the same village
or community are expected to help each other and share each other's burdens, as social solidarity
is the norm. The community is held together by its traditions, as expressed in ritual and handed
down by elders, priests, shamans, and gifted spiritual leaders.
Native American Religions
Native American religions recognize that the natural world is pervaded by the primary generative
spiritual forces. In the Native American world view, all beings are related, both physically and
emotionally, and there is no sharp distinction between natural and supernatural entities. This
world with its divine powers is symbolized in ritual by the six directions: North, South, East,
West, the zenith, and the nadir, and by the living entities which represent them. Hence the zenith
is understood as Grandfather (day) Sky, represented by Father Sun and the Thunderbirds; the
night sky, especially Grandmother Moon, is understood as female. The nadir is Mother or
Grandmother Earth, including all of her aspects which give life and nourishment: Water, Corn
Mother, Buffalo Mother, etc. In many modern Native American cultures, the totality of the
spiritual forces may be referred to by a single term, examples being K'che Manitou in the Ojibwa
language of the Algonquin and Wakan Tanka in Lakot of the Sioux.
The goal of Native American religions is wholeness, to bring individuals, the community, and all
their relations (Earth, plants, animals, spirits) into harmonious balance, to complete the circles of
life, to walk in beauty. Native American rituals are oriented toward communal wholeness. Thus,
the ritual use of tobacco, unique to the Americas, creates communion both among the
participants and with the sacred beings to whom tobacco is offered in the sacred pipe. In many
rituals, the participants strip themselves to their essential being in order to approach the spirits
with humility and openness. Rituals of the sweat lodge, fasting, the sun dance, the vision quest,
and those using psychoactive substances all serve to create the means for direct apprehension and
communication with spiritual beings. Through these means, individuals develop relationships
with spiritual entities that enable them to successfully live their lives for the good of their
Shamanism is widespread in most traditional religions. The shaman is specially gifted with the
ability to communicate with the spiritual world. Since the unseen spiritual forces are recognized
as in control of many phenomena on earth, a shaman may be called upon to heal physical and
mental illness, to ferret out criminals, or to discover the reason for bad luck. The shaman may go
into a trance for many hours, accompanied by dancing and the presentation of ritual objects.
Other participants may join in the trance as well, as they try to cure the afflicted soul.
South Pacific Religions
The traditional religions of the South Pacific are represented by a tradition from Tahiti and a
legend of the Maori of New Zealand. Maori and Polynesian legends celebrate the prowess of
those ancestors who bested the elements, explored and settled new islands, and won preeminence
over their brethren. These heroes sometimes attained their goals through clever ruses, sometimes
were adept at magic, and sometimes showed bravery in war. Some emerged as heroes despite
low social status; some were impetuous and had to atone for their own mistakes; many had to
deal with strife within their own families. Yet underneath is a deep longing for peace and
harmony, even though it is rarely attained.
New Religions
The new religions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with an aggregate membership of
over 130 million people, comprise the fastest growing segment of the religious life on this planet.
They demonstrate the continued vitality and freedom of the spirit, which ever seeks to break out
of conventional institutional forms. Most of the new religions may be regarded as offshoots of
older religious traditions. Although they are often grouped together on sociological grounds,
from the viewpoint of their religious content they resemble their parent religions far more than
they resemble each other. Some new religions have been accepted by their parent communities
as expressions of orthodoxy: for example the Hare Krishna movement is accepted by many
Hindus and some of the African independent churches have been reconciled with the leaders of
mainline Christianity. Others, like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Jehovah's
Witnesses, and the followers of Yogi Bhajan, claim that they are continuous with an established
world religion despite conflict with its leaders and institutions.
We have alluded previously to the problems of defining scriptures for these new religions. In
some cases the founder is still alive and giving messages which have yet to be digested into
scripture. Many religions which regard themselves as continuous with their parent tradition
utilize the parent tradition's scripture in teaching their doctrines. A few have distinctive texts
suitable for inclusion in World Scripture--be they official scripture, an interpretation of an older
scripture, the informal record of new revelations, or a collection of the founder's speeches.
First, there are new sects and movements in Hinduism both in India and the West, for example,
the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the Theosophical Society, Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj, Ananda
Marga, Transcendental Meditation, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Hare
Krishna), and movements centering on Meher Baba, Sathya Sai Baba, Bhagwan Rajneesh, and
others. Some of these movements are eclectic and controversial in relation to their orthodox
traditions, yet to a large extent their teachings are founded upon traditional scriptures which are
well represented in World Scripture. For example, the International Society for Krishna
Consciousness is a sect of Vaishnavite Hinduism which relies upon the Bhagavad Gita and the
Srimad Bhagavatam. The same consideration applies to the western missions of Buddhists
(Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Hsuan Hua), Sikhs (Yogi Bhajan, Kirpal Singh), and Taoists
(George Ohsawa, Macrobiotics).
The rapid industrialization of Japan in the last century brought with it the rise of a number of
new religions, many of which have missionary presences around the world. Several Buddhist lay
movements are offshoots of the branch of Japanese Buddhism founded by Nichiren (1222-1282)
and rely upon the Lotus Sutra as their scripture. These include Rissh-o K-osei Kai, whose leader,
Nikky-o Niwano, has been much involved in international peace movements, and S-oka Gakkai,
founded by J-ozaburo Makiguchi, whose political wing, the Komeito party, is a strong force in
the Japanese Diet. Another new religion with Buddhist roots is Agon-shu, which uses the
Dhammapada and other Theravada sutras as scripture combined with esoteric Shingon Buddhist
The new religions with Shinto roots have unique scriptures of their own. First among the new
religions of Japan was Tenrikyo. Founded by Miki Nakayama (1798-1887), its central scriptures
are three collections of her revelations: Mikagura-uta, Ofudesaki, and K-oki. They teach that
God, Tsukihi, is the divine Parent who longs for people to purify their minds from defiling "dust"
and receive healing power and grace. Tsukihi means Sun and Moon, indicating the union of yin
and yang, male and female.
The main sanctuary at Tenri is believed to be at the place of the creation of the world, and in the
ritual ten couples dance around the central column of this shrine which symbolizes the central
pillar of the earth. The millennium is coming when heavenly dew will descend on the shrine at
Tenri and enter the planet's omphalos. Tenriky-o encourages voluntary charitable activity and
loving deeds to remove the dust that accumulates on one's character.
Other new religions have combined Shinto with ideas from Christianity, Buddhism, and
Shamanism. -Omoto Kyo, The Great Foundation, was founded by Nao Deguchi in 1892.
Internationalist from the beginning (i.e., advocating the use of Esperanto), and for a time
suppressed by the government, it teaches that God is the all-pervading Spirit, demanding that
people work for unity and universal brotherhood. We include excerpts from its scripture Michino-Shiori.
Sekai Kyusei Kyo, The Church of World Messianity, was founded by Mokichi Okada (18821955), a former staff member of Omoto Kyo who in 1926 received revelations and was
empowered to be a channel of God's Healing Light (jorei) to remove illness, poverty, and strife
from the world and inaugurate a new messianic age. Okada's teaching is represented by the
scripture Johrei, which has been edited and translated by the Society of Johrei, an offshoot of
Okada's movement.
The founder of Mahikari, Yoshikazu Okada (1901-1974), was a member of Sekai Kyusei Kyo
before receiving his own revelations in 1959 which have been collected into a scripture called
Goseigen. The two sects Mahikari and Sukyo Mahikari both practice a nearly identical form of
healing called okiyome, in which God's Light (jorei) is focused through a pendant worn by the
practitioner called the omitama.
The doctrines of Seicho-no-Ie, that mind is the sole reality and that the body can be healed
through faith and mental purification, bear a marked resemblance to those of Christian Science.
The teachings of its founder Masaharu Taniguchi, who had also been a member of Omoto Kyo,
are represented by the Nectarean Shower of Holy Doctrines, Song of the Angel, and Holy Sutra
for Spiritual Healing.
Perfect Liberty Kyodan, founded by Miki Tokuharu in 1926, combines elements of Shinto and
Buddhism. It worships "the Supreme Spirit of the universe" but also stresses the role of ancestral
spirits as part of one's karma. In stressing Life is Art, Perfect Liberty Kyodan draws upon the
Buddhist teaching of non-self, by which what is truly authentic in a person comes to spontaneous
[INSERT: New section on Shinreikyo]
Korea, since the 1960s, has seen the emergence of religious movements seeking to rediscover the
indigenous Korean religion, that ancient religion which is believed to have prevailed prior to the
importation of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Christianity. These movements include the Tan
Goon Church, named after Tan Goon, the ancestor of the Korean people; the Tae Jong Church,
the Han Il Church, the Chun Do Church, and countless small groups of folk religionists. The
ancient thought of Korea has been preserved in several scriptures, the most important being the
Chun Boo Kyung. This scripture is a chart of 81 Chinese characters, arranged in a square of nine
rows and nine columns. The chart is quite cryptic, and its characters can be read in every
possible combination of rows, columns, and diagonals. Yet it has yielded extensive
interpretations revealing the principle of Heaven which governs man and the cosmos and by
which life can pros per. This natural law is expressed by the significant numbers one to ten.
The Baha'i Faith grew out of nineteenth century Islam, and much of its teaching is congruent
with traditional Islamic, and especially Sufi, ideas of man's mystic love for and union with God.
It departs from Islam, however, with the proclamation that humanity has entered a new age of
world unity and that the spiritual impulse for the new age has been given by God's new
messenger and messiah, Baha'u'llah. The Baha'i scriptures have been gleaned and assembled
from the many letters of Baha'u'llah, his forerunner the Bab, and his first disciples. We have
included selections from Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, the Book of Certitude
(Kitab-i-Iqan), the Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, and Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. Now more
than five million strong, there are Baha'i communities in most nations of the world.
Among the Christian-based sects and new religions, many retain the Bible as their scripture,
although it is given distinctive interpretation through the revelations to their founders. Among
them are the Seventh-Day Adventists and the Jehovah's Witnesses, sects born out of nineteenth
century American Protestant millennialism which have large missionary presences throughout
the world. In the twentieth century, new Christian groups tend to be more charismatic. They
include the independent churches in Africa such as the Kimbanguists in Zaire and the
Brotherhood of the Cross and Star in Nigeria. The Rastafarians are prominent in the Caribbean.
Other new religions in the Christian family supplement the Bible with their own distinctive
scriptural texts. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with a membership exceeding
seven million, has three revealed scriptures: the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and
Pearl of Great Price. The Book of Mormon is a translation from golden plates received by Joseph
Smith after the visitation of the angel Moroni.[8] It tells the story of God's dealings with ancient
inhabitants of the Americas and Jesus' appearances among them. Doctrine and Covenants
contains revelations, prophecies, and decrees by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other early
Latter-day Saint leaders by which the church was constituted. The Pearl of Great Price is a
selection of revelations and translations, including translations of certain Egyptian papyri
containing writings purported to be by Abraham and Moses and an autobiographical account of
Joseph Smith's call. These scriptures teach distinctive doctrines concerning the nature of God,
salvation, and the hereafter, and instruct on rituals such as the baptism of the dead and eternal
Temple marriages.
The Church of Christ, Scientist relies on Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary
Baker Eddy. It contains her spiritualized interpretations of biblical texts, where she meditated
especially on the healing miracles of Jesus. Christian Science teaches that mind is the sole
reality, while belief in the reality of matter is an illusion. Disease and death, being properties of
matter, are also illusory, and hence disease can be healed through mental power alone.
Other new religions take their inspiration from sources outside of the major world religions.
These sources include the traditions of Hermetic philosophy, alchemy, witchcraft, nature
religions, spiritualism, astrology, and psychology. In the West there has been a proliferation of
New Age and human potential groups, and as a representative of this group, we have chosen
passages from the texts of the Church of Scientology, founded by L. Ron Hubbard. His writings
describe a systematic psychological technique for purifying the mind from negative influences
embedded in the subconscious mind in order to realize a state of "clear" and spiritual freedom.
World Scripture
Compilation of World Scripture was possible only through the cooperation of a great many
scholars and religious thinkers who devoted themselves unselfishly to the massive task of
assembling and sifting through countless passages from scripture. The advisors and contributors
who materially participated in this task, or who kindly reviewed the completed manuscript to
assure that their tradition was represented fairly, are listed on the pages following the title page.
In addition, I wish to acknowledge the words of encouragement and valuable advice which came
from many sources: from Prof. Wande Abimbola, Dr. M. Darrol Bryant, Rev. Kanake
Dhammadina, Dr. Frank K. Flinn, Prof. Durwood Foster, Rabbi David J. Goldberg, Prof.
Naofusa Hiraii, Dr. Emefie Ikenga-Metuh, Prof. David Kalupahana, Dr. Frank Kaufmann, Dr.
Quan-tae Kim, Robert Kittel, Acharya Sushil Kumarji Maharaj, Dan May, Dr. Richard
Quebedeaux, Thomas Selover, Bishop Krister Stendahl, Dr. Robert Stockman, Dr. Thomas G.
Walsh, Jin Seung Yoo, and from my students at the Unification Theological Seminary. Special
thanks goes to Dr. Yoshihiko Masuda, who labored to secure permissions to reprint the passages
and gave many years of devoted service to the project. Robert Brooks, Carrol Ann Brooks, Hal
MacKenzie, Betty Lancaster, Allan Gonzalez, Robert Selle, Louis Rayapen, David Hose, Gerry
Servito, and Thomas Cromwell all worked to enable this book to see the light of day. Rev.
Chung Hwan Kwak, President of the International Religious Foundation, offered precious
spiritual guidance and unstinting financial support.
Behind the efforts of these individuals lies the larger project of interreligious dialogue, which has
created the spiritual and intellectual climate which has made this anthology possible. In
particular, through the conferences of the International Religious Foundation, where most of the
editors have sat together to discuss common themes and problems among the religions, we have
come to a consciousness of the common ground among religions. These conferences have also
fostered a spirit of interreligious alliance, as we have come to recognize that the religious
perspective on human life, which begins with acknowledging Ultimate Reality, needs defense
and support from religious people everywhere, regardless of tradition or creed. Such interfaith
discussions created the spiritual foundation upon which World Scripture could be created with
the cooperation of many individuals in the spirit of genuine dialogue.
Finally, I wish to give grateful acknowledgment to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, who first
conceived the idea for World Scripture and commissioned its preparation. In his address to the
first Assembly of the World's Religions in 1985, he called the religious leaders of the world to
discover their common purposes and bonds of friendship with which to create an alliance of all
the world's religions:
"As far as I know, God is not sectarian. He is not obsessed with minor details of doctrine. We
should quickly liberate ourselves from theological conflict which results from blind attachment
to doctrines and rituals, and instead focus on living communication with God. I think we
urgently need to purify the religious atmosphere into one in which believers can have living faith
and every soul can communicate with God. In God's parental heart and His great love, there is no
discrimination based on color or nationality. There are no barriers between countries or cultural
traditions, between East and West, North and South. Today God is trying to embrace the whole
of humankind as His children. Through interreligious dialogue and harmony we should realize
one ideal world of peace, which is God's purpose of creation and the common ideal of
World Scripture has been written to further this noble goal.
1. An organizational plan rooted in Hinduism is found in Whitall N. Perry, A Treasury of
Traditional Wisdom. Perry divides his anthology of scriptural texts and mystical passages
according to the three paths of karma yoga, (action), bhakti yoga (devotion), and jnana yoga
(knowledge), although he does not explicitly acknowledge this indebtedness to the Hindu
2. Even within the Christian family, the relative value of faith (the grace of Christ) and works
(obedience to the moral law) for salvation has been a source of contention. Most Protestants
stress salvation by faith alone, with good works being a consequence of faith. Roman Catholics,
Orthodox, and some Protestants (i.e., Anglicans) see faith and works as contributing
synergistically to realization of the highest good.
3. Where a scripture is known by more than one name, or by both an English name and a title in
the original language, it will be cited by the name which appears first in this introduction.
4. There are variations in the versification of the several English renderings of the Qur'an. This
anthology has selected the versification employed by M. Pickthall's translation as a standard.
5. He is attested to by the Rig Veda (10.136), the Srimad Bhagavatam (5.3.20), and the Shiva
Purana (7.2.9). Mahavira's predecessor, Parsvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara, is mentioned with
Mahavira in the Pali Buddhist scriptures.
6. The Buddha's chronology is uncertain; the available data has suggested a range of dates for the
death of the Buddha from 544 b.c.--the date officially accepted by much of the Buddhist world-to 483 b.c. Evidence suggests that he lived about twenty years after the passing of Mahavira.
7. These two books were taken from chapters 39 and 28 of the Book of Ritual.
8. On the meaning of 'translation,' see p. 633n.
World Scripture
We open with representative prayers, taken from the scriptures of the world's religions. They
invoke, give thanks, and affirm the efficacious influence of Absolute Reality in human life.
We meditate upon the glorious splendor
of the Vivifier divine.
May he himself illumine our minds.
1. Hinduism. Rig Veda 3.62.10: The Gayatri Mantra
Homage to Him, the Exalted One, the Arahant, the All-enlightened One.
To the Buddha I go for refuge.
To the Norm I go for refuge.
To the Order I go for refuge.
2. Buddhism. Khuddaka Patha
In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds,
The Beneficent, the Merciful,
Owner of the Day of Judgment.
Thee alone we worship; Thee alone we ask for help.
Show us the straight path:
The path of those whom Thou hast favored; not of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who
go astray.
3. Islam. Qur'an 1: Al-Fatihah
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
4. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 6.9-13: The Lord's Prayer
Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which he has created
according to his will. May he establish his kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and
within the life of the entire house of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.
May his great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.
Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name
of the Holy One, blessed be he, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that
are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.
May the prayers and supplications of the whole house of Israel be accepted by their Father who
is in heaven; and say, Amen.
May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.
He who creates peace in his celestial heights, may he create peace for us and for all Israel; and
say, Amen.
5. Judaism. Daily Prayer Book: The Kaddish
Our Father, it is thy universe, it is thy will,
Let us be at peace, let the souls of the people be cool.
Thou art our Father; remove all evil from our path.
6. African Traditional Religions. Nuer Prayer (Sudan)
With pleasure of the Wise Lord!
Blessed is the thought, blessed the word,
Blessed is the deed of Holy Zarathustra!
Do I pray with obeisance,
with upstretched hands for this support:
First, O Lord, that I perform all deeds
with Right, of the beneficent Spirit,
With wisdom of Good Thought,
so I may serve the Soul of the Creation!
7. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 28.1
I bow to the Arahants, the perfected human beings, Godmen.
I bow to the Siddhas, liberated bodiless souls, God.
I bow to the Acharyas, the masters and heads of congregations.
I bow to the Upadhyayas, the spiritual teachers.
I bow to the spiritual practitioners in the universe, Sadhus.
This fivefold obeisance mantra,
Destroys all sins and obstacles,
And of all auspicious repetitions,
Is the first and foremost.
8. Jainism. Namokar Mantra
He is the Sole Supreme Being; of eternal manifestation;
Creator, Immanent Reality; Without Fear, Without Rancor;
Timeless Form; Unincarnated; Self-existent;
Realized by the grace of the Holy Preceptor.
9. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji p. 1: The Mul Mantra
"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all
your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you
this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall
talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down,
and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as
frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and
upon your gates."
10. Judaism. Bible, Deuteronomy 6.4-9: The Shema
The Sky blesses me, the Earth blesses me;
Up in the Skies I cause to dance the Spirits;
On the Earth, the people I cause to dance.
11. Native American Religions. Cree Round Dance Song
All this is full. All That is full.
From fullness, fullness comes.
When fullness is taken from fullness,
Fullness still remains.
Om. Peace, peace, peace.
12. Hinduism. Isha Upanishad: Peace Chant
From the unreal lead me to the Real!
From darkness lead me to light!
From death lead me to immortality!
13. Hinduism. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28
May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
14. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Numbers 6.24-26: The Aaronic Benediction
Our Lord! Lo! We have heard a crier calling unto faith, "Believe in your Lord!" So we believed.
Our Lord! Therefore forgive us our sins, and remit from us our evil deeds, and make us die the
death of the righteous.
15. Islam. Qur'an 3.193
Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord,
my rock and my redeemer.
16. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 19.14
In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Say, "I take refuge in the Lord of mankind,
the King of mankind,
the God of mankind,
from the evil of the sneaking whisperer
who whispers in the hearts of mankind,
of the jinn and of mankind."
17. Islam. Qur'an 114
Rig Veda 3.62.10: The opening syllable OM is regarded as the cosmic sound of Being. When it
is chanted it resonates in oneness with the divine Source. Cf. Katha Upanishad 1.2.15-16, p. 834;
Mandukya Upanishad, p. 834. Khuddaka Patha: The Three Refuges from this suffering world are
the Buddha (the Teacher), the Dhamma (the Teaching), and the Sangha (the Taught). These three
are also called the Three Jewels. See Dhammapada 188-92, p. 671. Qur'an 1: The Fatihah is the
chief Muslim prayer; it is recited with prostrations five times a day. In honor and in parallel
content it is frequently compared to The Lord's Prayer.
Matthew 6.9-13: The Lord's Prayer is not only a supplication; it includes a pledge to live up to
the ideals of a Christian, specifically to forgive. God only forgives us if we forgive others; see
Matthew 18.21-35, p. 995 and 5.23-24, p. 997. The Kaddish is a source for The Lord's Prayer
(above), to which it bears much resemblance. Nuer Prayer: This is only one of the African
invocations represented in this anthology; cf. Anuak Prayer, p. 83; Dinka Song, p. 115; Shona
Prayer, p. 129; Boran Prayer, p. 560; Kikuya Prayer, p. 779. Yasna 28.1: In modern
Zoroastrianism, 'Good Thought' and 'Spirit' are aspects of the one Wise Lord, the only God,
Ahura Mazda. Historians have theorized that in earlier ages they were regarded as subordinate
Namokar Mantra: English translations cannot do justice to mantras such as this one and the
Gayatri (above), which, when recited in the original language, call forth spiritual energies
through the very sounds themselves. Invocations and mantras beginning with the words
'Obeisance' or 'All hail' are exceedingly common; cf. the Shiva Mantra in Black Yajur Veda 6.6,
p. 139; the Nichiren Buddhist mantra 'Homage to the Lotus Sutra,' the Pure Land Buddhist chant
'Adoration to Buddha Amitabha,' and the Roman Catholic 'Hail, Mary,' pp. 833f. Deuteronomy
6.4-9: Cf. Matthew 22.36-40, p. 174. Cree Round Dance Song: This song describes the
intercourse between the spiritual and physical realms; cf. Winnebago Invocation at the Sweat
Lodge, p. 373; Cheyenne Song, p. 294.
Isha Upanishad: 'That' is interpreted by both Shankara and Ramanuja as Brahman; 'this' as the
individual soul. Qur'an 114: This is the concluding sura of the Qur'an.
World Scripture
Many Paths To One Goal
The Truth in Many Paths
Tolerance and Respect for All Believers
One guiding principle behind World Scripture is that all religions are connected to the same
Ultimate Reality and lead people toward a common goal. This is true even though the various
religions make exclusive claims about themselves, sometimes asserting the uniqueness and
incomparability of their God or ultimate principle. Nevertheless, in affirming the existence of
Ultimate Reality or an ultimate principle, we assume that it can be only one, regardless of the
various beliefs which people hold about it--be it described as one or many, impersonal or
personal, absolute emptiness or absolute Being, and regardless of the name by which it is called.
Similarly, the goals of spiritual practice for each religion, while not identical, have much in
common. Since the ideals imbued in human nature are universal, we may expect to find that
people who have reached the goal, be it enlightenment, salvation, sanctification, self-realization,
or liberation, indeed manifest the highest human qualities: love, compassion, wisdom, purity,
courage, patience, righteousness, strength of character, calmness of mind, and inner joy.
Regardless of religious belief, people who have realized such a goal inevitably impress others by
their personal virtue. Ultimately, these goals converge and become one, inasmuch as they
express the best of our common humanity.
This principle is neither a new idea nor the novel result of the interfaith movement. The
scriptures of each religion contain passages which recognize that there are truths in other paths.
They recognize that the God(s) worshipped by other faiths may be the same as their own God.
They recognize that the teachings and practices of other faiths may be similar in many respects to
their own teachings and practices. They also teach toleration and respect for righteous and
sincere believers of other faiths. They condemn quarrels over doctrines for displaying egoism
and enmity that have no place in the religious life. Some of these passages have been brought
together in this chapter.
World Scripture
This section gathers passages from various scriptures which affirm that others who do not share the
faith of that scripture are also following the way of Truth. Thus Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism
understand the various deities to be expressions of a single Absolute Reality, and the various paths to
lead to one Supreme Goal. Judaism has the doctrine of the Noahic laws, God's revelation to all
humankind through which non-Jews can be righteous before God. The Christian Bible contains passages
affirming that God had intimated himself in the religion of the Greeks. Sikhism affirms the common
spiritual origin of Islam and Hinduism. The Islamic scriptures affirm that Jews and Christians are "people
of the book" who share the same God as the God of Muhammad. Furthermore, many religions teach
that a nonbeliever, if he does righteousness, is acceptable before God and will receive a reward.
However, there are limits to such openness. Even if the goal is ultimately one, many interpreters
of religion may consider their particular path as the best or only effective path to the goal. For
example, although the Qur'an testifies to other scriptures as divinely inspired, a typical Muslim
view is to regard them as having suffered corruptions and interpolations; the only accurate
witness to those previous revelations is the testimony of the Qur'an itself. Christians may
emphasize the uniqueness of God as revealed in Christ, and deny that the revelations of other
faiths reach the essence of God's true being, even as they acknowledge that these scriptures have
elements of the principles of truth, love, justice, wisdom, and morality common also to
Then there is the problem of idolatry: when is another person's god truly the One God, and when
is it a false idol? We remark that idolatry--and similarly the question of corrupt scripture--is
expressing the negative judgment that certain aspects of religion are false because they are
human creations which are elevated incorrectly to the status of absolutes: see Idolatry, pp. 40307. But no genuine religion is entirely man-made. Every religion has led its sincere believers to
transcendental knowledge and realization of Ultimate Reality. Could not doctrinal intolerance
toward the claims of other religions itself be a form of idolatry, falsely absolutizing the beliefs of
one's own group?
As men approach Me, so I receive them. All paths, Arjuna, lead to Me.
1. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 4.11
Confucius said... "In the world there are many different roads but the destination is the same. There are
a hundred deliberations but the result iis one."
2. Confucianism. I Ching, Appended Remarks 2.5
At any time, in any form and accepted name, if one is shorn of all attachment, that one is you alone. My
Lord! You are one although variously appearing.
3. Jainism. Hemachandra, Dvatrimshika 29
They have called him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, and the divine fine-winged Garuda; They speak of Indra,
Yama, Matrarisvan: the One Being sages call by many names.
4. Hinduism. Rig Veda 1.164.46
Rig Veda 1.164.46: Cf. Rig Veda 10.63.2, p. 367.
The Hindus and the Muslims have but one and the same God, What can a mullah or a sheikh do?
5. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Bhairo, p. 1158
Sometimes I [the Buddha] spoke of myself, sometimes of others; sometimes I presented myself,
sometimes others; sometimes I showed my own actions, sometimes those of others. All my doctrines
are true and none are false.
6. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 16
The Buddha declared to the bodhisattva Aksayamati, "Good man, if there are beings in the land who can
be conveyed to deliverance by the body of a Buddha, then the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara preaches the
Truth by displaying the body of a Buddha.... To those who can be conveyed to deliverance by the body
of Brahma [God the Creator] he preaches the Truth by displaying the body of Brahma. To those who can
be conveyed to deliverance by the body of the god Shakra he preaches the Truth by displaying the body
of the god Shakra. To those who can be conveyed to deliverance by the body of the god Ishvara [the
personal God] he preaches the Truth by displaying the body of the god Ishvara.... To those who can be
conveyed to deliverance by the body of an elder... a householder... an official... a woman... a boy or
girl... a god, dragon, spirit, angel, demon, garuda-bird, centaur, serpent, human or non-human, he
preaches Dharma by displaying the appropriate body.... The bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, by resort to a
variety of forms, travels the world, conveying the beings to salvation."
7. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 25
This is the land of the gods. The people should revere them. In my essence I [Amaterasu] am the Buddha
Vairocana. Let my people understand this and take refuge in the Law of the Buddhas.
8. Shinto. Revelation of the Sun Goddess to Emperor Shomu
Say, "We believe in God, and in what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham,
Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in what was given to Moses, Jesus, and the Prophets from
their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to God do we submit."
9. Islam. Qur'an 3.84
Lotus Sutra 16: After revealing the eternity of the Buddha, cf. Lotus Sutra 16, p. 647, Buddha explains
that he has assumed various human forms in countless different worlds to guide every possible being to
the right path. Similarly, the doctrines preached by the various enlightened sages, inasmuch as they are
all manifestations of the same eternal Buddha, are all true teachings. Compare Tattvarthaslokavartika
116, p. 806. Lotus Sutra 25: The Boddhisatva Avalokitesvara, see Lotus Sutra 25, pp. 566f, also assumes a
variety of forms; see previous note. Revelation of the Sun Goddess to Emperor Shomu: Vairocana is the
Buddha of the Sun, just as Amaterasu is the Shinto Sun Goddess. Qur'an 3.84: The Qur'an teaches that
Muhammad is one of a succession of true prophets who have given God's message to diverse peoples;
cf. Qur'an 4.163-65, p. 663, and 19.41-58, p. 665.
There can be no doubt that whatever the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their
inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The difference between the
ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of
the age in which they were revealed. All of them, except for a few which are the outcome of human
perversity, were ordained of God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose.
10. Baha'i Faith. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 111
Rabbi Joshua said, "There are righteous men among the nations who have a share in the world to
11. Judaism. Tosefta Sanhedrin 13.2
I look at all the major religions of the world as one big family.
12. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 1-1-87
And I [Jesus] have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my
voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.
13. Christianity. Bible, John 10.16
And there never was a people, without a warner having lived among them.
14. Islam. Qur'an 35.24
Verily We have sent messengers before you, among them some of those of whom We have told you,
and some of whom We have not told you.
15. Islam. Qur'an 40.78
Unto each nation have We given sacred rites which they are to perform; so let them not dispute with
you of the matter, but you summon unto your Lord.
16. Islam. Qur'an 22.67
There is not a single place in all the corners of the world where God is absent.
17. Omoto Kyo. Michi-no-Shiori
For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place
incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the
Lord of hosts.
18. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Malachi 1.11
Qur'an 35.24, 40.78 and 22.67: Based on these verses, Muslims can respect the founders and teachings
of Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Confucianism, etc. which are not mentioned in the Qur'an. Cf. Qur'an
2.115, p. 109; 10.47-49, p. 1037; 16.36, p. 403.
Those who believe in the Qur'an, those who follow the Jewish scriptures, and the Sabeans and the
Christians--any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness--on them shall be no fear,
nor shall they grieve.
19. Islam. Qur'an 5.69
Seven precepts were commanded to the children of Noah: social laws [civil justice]; to refrain from
blasphemy; idolatry; adultery; bloodshed; robbery; and eating flesh cut from a living animal.
20. Judaism. Talmud, Sanhedrin 56a
Some call on the Lord, "Rama," some cry, "Khuda,"
Some bow to Him as Gosain, some as Allah;
He is called the Ground of Grounds and also the Bountiful,
The Compassionate One and Gracious.
Hindus bathe in holy waters for His sake; Muslims make the pilgrimage to Mecca. The Hindus perform
puja; others bow their heads in namaz.
There are those who read the Vedas and others--Christians, Jews, Muslims--who read the Semitic
Some wear blue, some white robes,
Some call themselves Muslims, others Hindus.
Some aspire to bahishat (Muslim heaven), some to swarga (Hindu heaven).
Says Nanak, Whoever realizes the will of the Lord,
He will find out the Lord's secrets!
21. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Ramkali, M.5, p. 885
Lo! We did reveal the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light, by which the Prophets who surrendered
unto God judged the Jews and the rabbis and the priests, judged by such portion of God's Scripture as
they were bidden to observe, and to which they were witnesses. So fear not mankind, but fear Me. And
barter not My revelations for a little gain. Whoso judges not by that which God has sent down--such are
And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming the Torah before
him, and We bestowed on him the Gospel, wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that
which was revealed before it in the Torah--a guidance and an admonition for those who ward off
Let the People of the Gospel judge by that which God has revealed therein. Whosoever judges
not by that which God has revealed--such are those who live in evil.
And unto thee We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was
before it, and a watcher over it. So judge between them by that which God has revealed, and
follow not their desires apart from the truth which has come unto thee. For each We have
appointed a divine law and a traced-out way. Had God willed He could have made you one
community. But that He may try you by that which He has given you, He made you as you are.
So vie one with another in good works. Unto God you will all return, and He will then inform
you of that wherein you differ.
22. Islam. Qur'an 5.44, 46-48
Sanhedrin 56a: Since the children of Noah are the ancestors of all humankind, the rabbis have
traditionally interpreted these laws, given by God to Noah after the flood in Genesis 9.3-7, as moral
legislation given by God to all nations. By obeying these laws, a Gentile is accounted righteous before
So Paul, standing in the middle of the Areopagus, said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you
are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar
with this inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to
you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in
shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself
gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one every nation of men to live on
the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that
they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from
each one of us, for 'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your poets have said,
'For we are indeed his offspring.'"
23. Christianity. Bible, Acts 17.22-28
Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai said, "Just as the sin-offering atones for Israel, so righteousness atones for the
peoples of the world."
24. Judaism. Talmud, Baba Batra 10b
And Peter opened his mouth and said, "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation
any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him."
25. Christianity. Bible, Acts 10.34-35
Qur'an 5.44-48: The Qur'an states that it is a trustworthy standard of truth, 'a watcher' over other
revelations by which their beliefs can be tested and evaluated. Orthodox Islam goes further and regards
the path laid down in the Qur'an to be the one sole path. Where the Jewish and Christian scriptures
differ from the testimony of the Qur'an, the error is laid to the interpolations made by corrupt Jewish
and Christian divines. But this interpretation may go beyond the letter of the Qur'an, which prohibits
such disputes between religions. Each is held responsible only to the truth as found in its own scripture.
Any contest between religious communities should be carried out on the field of good works. The
question of reconciling different doctrines is left to God. Acts 17.22-28: Paul is quoting Greek poets; the
first quotation is often attributed to Epimenides; the second is from Aratus' Phaenomena. Baba Batra
10b: On what is righteousness, see Sanhedrin 56a, p. 62. Cf. Seder Eliyyahu Rabba 1 0, p. 27 8; Sifra 86b,
p. 282. Acts 10.34-35: Cf. Romans 2.9-11, p. 278.
Of whatsoever teachings, Gotamid, you can assure yourself thus, "These doctrines conduce to passions,
not to dispassion; to bondage, not to detachment; to increase of worldly gains, not to decrease of them;
to covetousness, not to frugality; to discontent, and not contentment; to company, not solitude; to
sluggishness, not energy; to delight in evil, not delight in good"--of such teachings you may with
certainty affirm, Gotamid, "This is not the Norm. This is not the Discipline. This is not the Master's
But of whatsoever teachings you can assure yourself [that they are the opposite of these things
that I have told you]--of such teachings you may with certainty affirm, "This is the Norm. This is
the Discipline. This is the Master's Message."
26. Buddhism. Vinaya Pitaka ii.10
Let some worship the Truthful One [a Taoist deity], and revere the Northern Constellation, while others
bow before the Buddha and recite sutras.
P'an Ch'ung-Mou says, "What is to be avoided most in our life is vacillation and frivolity; what is
most excellent is a reverential heart. Therefore, we Confucians endeavor to preserve sincerity of
heart and consider reverence as most essential. It is needless to say that sincerity and reverence
make us companions of heaven and earth, gods and spirits. There is, however, another class of
people who adopt Buddhism as their guidance. They bow before the Buddha and recite his
sutras, always bent on preserving reverence and awe. They will never relax the vigilant guard
over the heart, which will by degrees become pure and bright, free from evil thoughts and ready
to do good. This enlightenment is called their most happy land. What is necessary, then, for
Buddhists as well as Confucians is to avoid vacillation and frivolity, which will render you
unreliable. Keep the heart always restrained by reverence and awe. Otherwise what can be the
use of the recitation of sutras or the discourses of Confucius?"
27. Taoism. Tract of the Quiet Way
Vinaya Pitaka ii.10: The Buddha is proposing a test that may be applied to determine the truth of any
teaching. Tract of the Quiet Way: Religion in China is syncretic, combining the Three Teachings (san
chiao): Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Although the Tract of the Quiet Way is a Taoist scripture,
the commentator P'an Ch'ung-Mou is a Confucian, and he calls for reverence of Buddhist sutras. See
Tract of the Quiet Way, p. 1027.
World Scripture
This section contains selected passages calling for tolerance and respect for believers of other religions,
and for conscientious people generally. Believers are urged to treat everyone with equal respect, not to
have a different standard of conduct for people of other faiths than for one's own community. Religious
disputes and doctrinal conflicts are condemnable; they are often motivated by egoism disguised as
piety, and by displaying enmity they do not give proper witness to one's faith. The polemicist betrays his
ignorance: attached to his own partial viewpoint, he cannot see the possible validity of another's. Herein
is included the famous parable, found in many sources, of the blind men and the elephant. It teaches
the folly of regarding any single religious perspective as absolute and complete. Such is also the import
of the Jain doctrine of Anekanta, which regards all disparate doctrines as complementary parts of a
single whole.
There is no compulsion in religion.
1. Islam. Qur'an 2.256
Will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe? No soul can believe, except by the Will of
2. Islam. Qur'an 10.99-100
Those who praise their own doctrines and disparage the doctrines of others do not solve any problem.
3. Jainism. Sutrakritanga 1.1.50
The Buddha says, "To be attached to a certain view and to look down upon others' views as inferior--this
the wise men call a fetter."
4. Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 798
Qur'an 2.256: Cf. Analects 12.19, p. 1072. Qur'an 10.99-100: Cf. Qur'an 16:125, p. 1026. Sutta Nipata
798: Cf. 1 Corinthians 8.1-3, p. 796; Diamond Sutra 21, p. 800.
Truth has many aspects. Infinite truth has infinite expressions. Though the sages speak in divers ways,
they express one and the same Truth.
Ignorant is he who says, "What I say and know is true; others are wrong." It is because of this
attitude of the ignorant that there have been doubts and misunderstandings about God. This
attitude it is that causes dispute among men. But all doubts vanish when one gains self-control
and attains tranquillity by realizing the heart of Truth. Thereupon dispute, too, is at an end.
5. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.15
Kapathika, "How should a wise man maintain truth?"
The Buddha, "A man has a faith. If he says 'This is my faith,' so far he maintains truth. But by
that he cannot proceed to the absolute conclusion: 'This alone is Truth, and everything else is
6. Buddhism. Majjhima Nikaya, Canki-sutta
Comprehend one philosophical view through comprehensive study of another one.
7. Jainism. Acarangasutra 5.113
All the doctrines are right in their own respective spheres--but if they encroach upon the province of
other doctrines and try to refute their views, they are wrong. A man who holds the view of the
cumulative character of truth never says that a particular view is right or that a particular view is wrong.
8. Jainism. Sanmatitarka of Siddhasena 1.28
9. Like the bee, gathering honey from different flowers, the wise man accepts the essence of different
scriptures and sees only the good in all religions.
9. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3
And nearest to them in love to the believers you will find those who say, "We are Christians," because
among them are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not
arrogant. And when they listen to the revelation received by the Apostle, you will see their eyes
overflowing with tears, for they recognize the truth. They pray, "Our Lord! we believe; write us down
among the witnesses."
10. Islam. Qur'an 5.82-83
A Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, held in honor by all the people, stood up
and ordered that [Peter and the apostles] be put outside for a while. And he said to the council, "Men of
Israel, take care what you do with these men. For before these days Theudas arose, giving himself out to
be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was slain and all who
followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the
census and drew away some of the people after him; he also perished, and all who followed him were
scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan
or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You
might even be found opposing God!"
11. Christianity. Bible, Acts 5.34-39
Sanmatitarka: Cf. Tattvarthaslokavartika 116, p. 806. Qur'an 5.82-83: Those Christians of the time of
Muhammad exemplified an attitude that is ever essential to interreligious understanding: we should be
open to recognize the truth in another's religion and rejoice in it.
A man among the Muslims and a man among the Jews reviled one another. The Muslim said, "By Him
who chose Muhammad above the universe," and the Jew said, "By Him who chose Moses above the
universe." Thereupon the Muslim raised his hand and struck the Jew on his face, and the Jew went to
the Prophet and told him what had happened between him and the Muslim. The Prophet summoned
the Muslim and asked him about that, and when he informed him the Prophet said, "Do not make me
superior to Moses, for mankind will swoon on the day of resurrection and I shall swoon along with them.
I shall be the first to recover and see Moses seizing the side of the Throne; and I shall not know whether
he was among those who had swooned and had recovered before me, or whether he was among those
of whom God had made an exception.... Do not make distinctions between the Prophets."
12. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim
Suppose you and I have had an argument. If you have beaten me instead of my beating you, then are
you necessarily right and am I necessarily wrong? If I have beaten you instead of your beating me, then
am I necessarily right and are you necessarily wrong? Is one of us right and the other wrong? Are both of
us right or are both of us wrong? If you and I don't know the answer, then other people are bound to be
even more in the dark. Whom shall we get to decide what is right? Shall we get someone who agrees
with you to decide? But if he already agrees with you, how can he decide fairly? Shall we get someone
who agrees with me? But if he already agrees with me, how can he decide? Shall we get someone who
disagrees with both of us?... But waiting for one shifting voice [to decide for] another is the same as
waiting for none of them. Harmonize them all with the Heavenly Equality, leave them to their endless
changes, and so live out your years. What do I mean by harmonizing them with the Heavenly Equality?
Right is not right; so is not so. If right were really right, it would differ so clearly from not right that there
would be no need for argument. If so were really so, it would differ so clearly from not so that there
would be no need for argument. Forget the years; forget distinctions. Leap into the boundless and make
it your home!
13. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 2
Acts 5.34-39: The liberal attitude of Rabbi Gamaliel swayed the council to allow Peter and the apostles
freedom to preach the Christian gospel in Jerusalem. Christians use this passage to argue for toleration
of unconventional sects and opinions. Gamaliel's dictum, that undertakings of men will fail but those of
God cannot be defeated, is consistent with Jewish teaching: cf. Abot 4.14, p. 1081. Chuang Tzu 2: Cf.
Chuang Tzu 2, p. 181; Tao Te Ching 2, p. 801; also Digha Nikaya i.3, p. 1005.
A number of disciples went to the Buddha and said, "Sir, there are living here in Savatthi many
wandering hermits and scholars who indulge in constant dispute, some saying that the world is infinite
and eternal and others that it is finite and not eternal, some saying that the soul dies with the body and
others that it lives on forever, and so forth. What, Sir, would you say concerning them?"
The Buddha answered, "Once upon a time there was a certain raja who called to his servant and
said, 'Come, good fellow, go and gather together in one place all the men of Savatthi who were
born blind... and show them an elephant.' 'Very good, sire,' replied the servant, and he did as he
was told. He said to the blind men assembled there, 'Here is an elephant,' and to one man he
presented the head of the elephant, to another its ears, to another a tusk, to another the trunk, the
foot, back, tail, and tuft of the tail, saying to each one that that was the elephant.
"When the blind men had felt the elephant, the raja went to each of them and said to each, 'Well,
blind man, have you seen the elephant? Tell me, what sort of thing is an elephant?'
"Thereupon the men who were presented with the head answered, 'Sire, an elephant is like a pot.'
And the men who had observed the ear replied, 'An elephant is like a winnowing basket.' Those
who had been presented with a tusk said it was a ploughshare. Those who knew only the trunk
said it was a plough; others said the body was a grainery; the foot, a pillar; the back, a mortar; the
tail, a pestle, the tuft of the tail, a brush.
"Then they began to quarrel, shouting, 'Yes it is!' 'No, it is not!' 'An elephant is not that!' 'Yes, it's
like that!' and so on, till they came to blows over the matter.
"Brethren, the raja was delighted with the scene.
"Just so are these preachers and scholars holding various views blind and unseeing.... In their
ignorance they are by nature quarrelsome, wrangling, and disputatious, each maintaining reality
is thus and thus."
Then the Exalted One rendered this meaning by uttering this verse of uplift,
O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim
For preacher and monk the honored name!
For, quarreling, each to his view they cling.
Such folk see only one side of a thing.
14. Jainism and Buddhism. Udana 68-69: Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant
Do not break a promise, not that which you contracted with a non-Zoroastrian nor that with a coreligionist. Both are valid.
15. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Mihir Yasht 10.2
Udana 68-69: We give a version of this well-known Indian tale from the Buddhist canon, but some assert
it is of Jain origin. It does illustrate well the Jain doctrine of Anekanta, the manysidedness of things. Cf.
Tattvarthaslokavartika 116, p. 806. Mihir Yast 10.2: Cf. Analects 15.5, p. 1020.
Revile not those unto whom they pray besides God, lest they out of spite revile God through ignorance.
16. Islam. Qur'an 6.108
Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that in case they speak against you as wrongdoers, they
may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
17. Christianity. Bible, 1 Peter 2.12
Our rabbis have taught, "We support the poor of the heathen along with the poor of Israel, visit the sick
of the heathen along with the sick of Israel, and bury the [dead] poor of the heathen along with the
dead of Israel, in the interests of peace."
18. Judaism. Talmud, Gittin 61a
1 Peter 2.12: Cf. 2 Corinthians 6.3-13; Lotus Sutra 14, pp. 1028f. Gittin 61a: Cf. Sotah 14a, p. 988; Hadith
of Bukhari, p. 970; Gandavyuha Sutra, 990f.
World Scripture
CHAPTER 1: Ultimate Reality
Traces Of God's Existence
The One
Formlessness, Emptiness, Mystery
Transcendent, All-Pervasive Reality
Sovereign and Omnipotent
Immanent and Near At Hand
Eternal -- In A World Of Transience
The Creator
Goodness and Love
Divine Father and Mother
This chapter contains selected passages on the nature of God or Ultimate Reality. This Reality is
both knowable and mysterious, transcendent and immanent, unchanging and passionate. He or
She may be encountered as a personal, loving God, as impersonal Being, or as Truth which is
neither being nor non-being. It is a Unity, yet has many manifestations. In many religions, it is
credited with the creation of the universe.
Religions denote Ultimate Reality in various ways. If one contrasts the personal God of
Christianity, Islam, and Judaism with the impersonal Absolute of Hindu Vedanta, one may infer
that each religion has its distinctive way of apprehending the Absolute. However, it is more
accurate to consider a variety of images of the Absolute even though important distinctions are to
be made between similar images in different religions. A seven-part typology is helpful for
understanding how these passages from various scriptures have been put together.
First, we may speak of one image of Ultimate Reality as a personal God; this image is central to
Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, and to the theistic traditions of Hinduism. Second, there is
the image of Ultimate Reality as an impersonal transcendent Being, the ultimate source of all
existence: this is Brahman in some Hindu traditions, the Primal Unity or Tao of Chinese
tradition, the Christian philosophical image of God as the Unmoved Mover, the Sikh One
Without Attributes, the Mahayana Buddhist concept of Suchness (Tathata). Third, there is also
an image of Ultimate Reality as immanent within each person: this is the Hindu Atman which
has an eternal substance, the Mahayana Buddhist Enlightening Mind or Buddha Mind (bodhi) or
Womb of the Tathagata (tathagatagharba) which dwells in Liberation and has no substance, and
Christian concepts of the indwelling Spirit. Fourth is an image of Ultimate Reality as the ultimate
goal or blessed state; here is the Buddhist goal of Liberation ( Nirvana) an d the Jain ideal of the
soul in its most purified, divine stage (paramatman). Fifth, religions which recognize many
spiritual beings may image Ultimate Reality as their common solidarity which works with a
single purpose: the Shinto kami and the Taoist deities and the Native American spirits (Sioux:
wakan) may be called "Heaven" or "divinity" in the singular. Yet a sixth image establishes
Ultimate Reality based upon the manifestation of the Founder; this is the Buddhist image of the
Absolute as the Buddha in his eternal, cosmic manifestation (Dharmakaya), the Christian image
of the cosmic Christ on his heavenly throne, as in the Book of Revelation, or again the Jain
paramatman as revealed through the Tirthankara. Finally, Ultimate Reality may be depicted as
eternal law, as Hindu Dharma or Rita, Taoism's Tao, Buddhist Dhamma, Christianity's Word
(logos), Jewish Torah, etc. But as this last type is often recognized to be a subordinate and
consequent attribute of Ultimate Reality that is itself beyond any law , we will defer its
consideration to a general treatment of divine law in the next chapter.
Although this typology can distinguish the several different ways of imaging Ultimate Reality, in
fact the concepts typically overlap. For example, the goodness of God can be understood in any
of these seven images: the loving kindness of the personal God, the impersonal beneficence of
Heaven, the absolute bliss of Nirvana, the solidarity of the kami for the promotion of beauty and
purity, or the compassionate nature of Reality as revealed in the compassion of the Buddha.
Therefore, for the sake o f finding common ground between religions, we have placed side by
side these various expressions of Ultimate Reality as they pertain to common themes. The
themes which are distinguished in this chapter are: traces of God's existence in nature and in
ourselves; the unity of God; Ultimate Reality as formless, unknowable, or void; Ultimate Reality
as transcendent; the sovereignty and power of God; divine omniscience, knowing all secret
thoughts and deeds; Ultimate Reality immanent in nature and in the human he art; its unchanging
nature in the midst of a world of transience; God the Creator; the goodness of God; and God our
Divine Parent. Further themes that deal with the nature of Ultimate Reality can be found in
sections scattered throughout later chapters.
World Scripture
How can human beings recognize the existence of this transcendent Reality, the invisible God,
all-pervasive Truth? Although the vast philosophical literature dealing with proofs for God's
existence is beyond the scope of this anthology, there are certain arguments which are put forth
in scripture. Although God is invisible, He has left evidence of His reality by which people can
know Him, if they only look. These include: first, the doorway of contemplation by which God is
sensed by the inner self; second, the universality of the moral law, which mirrors the law of
nature; third, the evidence of His handiwork in the glories of the creation; and finally, the
testimony of the founders of religion. By these means traces of Ultimate Reality can be
ascertained in the midst of this relative existence.
Who knows this truly, and who will now declare it, what paths lead together to the gods? Only
their lowest aspects of existence are seen, who exist on supreme, mystical planes.
1. Hinduism. Rig Veda 3.54.5
Rig Veda 3.54.5: 'Who knows this?' cf. Rig Veda 10.129, p. 130.
Eye cannot see him, nor words reveal him;
by the senses, austerity, or works he is not known.
When the mind is cleansed by the grace of wisdom,
he is seen by contemplation--the One without parts.
2. Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.8
The door of the Truth is covered by a golden
disc. Open it, O Nourisher!
Remove it so that I who have been worshipping
the Truth may behold It.
O Nourisher, lone Traveler of the sky! Controller!
O Sun, offspring of Prajapati! Gather Your rays;
withdraw Your light. I would see, through Your grace,
that form of Yours which is the fairest.
He, that Person who dwells there--is I myself!
3. Hinduism. Isha Upanishad 15-16
He who looks inwardly at the self revels in the self;
He who revels in the self looks inwardly at the self.
4. Jainism. Acarangasutra 2.173
The thing that is called Tao is eluding and vague.
Vague and eluding, there is in it the form.
Eluding and vague, in it are things.
Deep and obscure, in it is the essence.
The essence is very real; in it are evidences.
From the time of old until now, its manifestations ever remain,
By which we may see the beginnings of all things.
How do I know that the beginnings of all things are so?
Through this.
5. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 21
Confucius said, "The power of spiritual forces in the universe-how active it is everywhere!
Invisible to the eyes and impalpable to the senses, it is inherent in all things, and nothing can
escape its operation."
It is the fact that there are these forces which make men in all countries fast and purify
themselves, and with solemnity of dress institute services of sacrifice and religious worship. Like
the rush of mighty waters, the presence of unseen Powers is felt; sometimes above us, sometimes
around us. In the Book of Songs it is said,
The presence of the Spirit:
It cannot be surmised,
How may it be ignored!
Such is the evidence of things invisible that it is impossible to doubt the spiritual nature of man.
6. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 16
Isha Upanishad 15-16: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 15.9-11, p. 219; Milarepa, p. 587; 2 Corinthians 3.18, p. 587.
Acarangasutra 2.173: Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 7.25.2, p. 530. Tao Te Ching 21: The word essence
(ching) also means spirit, intelligence, life force. 'This' in the last line can mean through intuition.
There is, monks, a condition where there is neither the element of extension, the element of cohesion,
the element of heat, nor the element of motion, nor the sphere of the infinity of space, nor the sphere
of the infinity of consciousness, nor the sphere of nothingness, nor the sphere of neither-perceptionnor-non-perception; neither this world, nor a world beyond, nor sun and moon.
There, monks, I say, there is neither coming nor going nor staying nor passing away nor arising.
Without support or mobility or basis is it. This is indeed the end of suffering.
That which is Selfless, hard it is to see;
Not easy is it to perceive the Truth.
But who has ended craving utterly
Has naught to cling to, he alone can see.
There is, monks, an unborn, a not-become, a not-made, a not-compounded. If, monks, there were
not this unborn, not-become, not-made, not-compounded, there would not here be an escape
from the born, the become, the made, the compounded. But because there is an unborn, a notbecome, a not-made, a not-compounded, therefore there is an escape from the born, the become,
the made, the compounded.
7. Buddhism. Udana 80, Pataligama
We shall show then Our signs on the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to
them that it is the Truth.
8. Islam. Qur'an 41.53
For what can be known about God is plain to [all], because God has showed it to them. Ever
since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, has
been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
9. Christianity. Bible, Romans 1.19-20
Doctrine of the Mean 16: This also refers to evidences of a spiritual world; cf. 2 Corinthians 12.2-4, p.
322. Udana 80: The Buddha only describes this condition negatively; he refuses to speculate on the
nature of Being itself. Cf. Diamond Sutra 29, p. 121; 21, p. 800; Majihima Nikaya i.426-31, pp. 808f. But
elsewhere he calls this unborn condition Nirvana; cf. Sutta Nipata 758, p. 124; Anguttara Nikaya v.322, p.
136. Mahayana Buddhism gives it a positive definition and calls it Suchness; cf. Lankavatara Sutra 83, p.
80; Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 31.1, p. 81.
The Book of Songs says,
The hawk soars to the heavens above;
Fishes dive to the depths below.
That is to say, there is no place in the highest heavens above nor in the deepest waters below where the
moral law is not to be found.
10. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 12
Known by the name of Protectress
is the Goddess girt by Eternal Law;
by her beauty are these trees green
and have put on their green garlands.
11. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 10.8.31
The deeds which I shall do and those which I have done ere now,
And the things which are precious to the eye, through Good Mind,
The light of the sun, the sparkling dawn of the days,
All this is for your praise, O Wise Lord, as righteousness!
12. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 50.10
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
neither is their voice heard;
Yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
13. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 19.1-4
It is God who splits the grain and the date-stone. He brings forth the living from the dead; He
brings forth the dead too from the living.
So that then is God; then how are you perverted? He splits the sky into dawn, and has made the
night for a repose, and the sun and moon for a reckoning.
That is the ordaining of the All-mighty, the All-knowing. It is He who has appointed for you the
stars, that by them you might be guided in the shadows of land and sea.
We have distinguished the signs for a people who know.
It is He who produced you from one living soul, and then a lodging place, and then a repository.
We have distinguished the signs for a people who understand. It is He who sent down out of
heaven water, and thereby We have brought forth the shoot of every plant. And then We have
brought forth the green leaf of it, bringing forth from it close-compounded grain, and out of the
palm tree, from the spathe of it, dates thick-clustered, ready to the hand, and gardens of vines,
olives, pomegranates, like each to each, and each unlike to each. Look upon their fruits when
they fructify and ripen!
Surely, in all this are signs for a people who do believe.
14. Islam. Qur'an 6.95-99
And of His signs is that He created you from the dust; now behold you are human beings,
ranging widely.
And of His signs is that He created for you, of yourselves, spouses that you might find repose in
them, and He has planted love and kindness in your hearts.
Surely there are signs in this for people who reflect.
And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the variety of your tongues and
hues, surely there are signs in this for people who have knowledge. And of His signs is your
slumber by night and day, and your seeking of His bounty.
Surely there are signs in this for people who hear. The lightning which He shows you for fear
and hope is yet another of His signs; He sends down water from the sky, thereby reviving the
earth after it is dead.
Surely in this there are signs for people who understand. And of His signs is that space and the
earth stand firm by His command; then when He calls you, suddenly, from the earth you shall
15. Islam. Qur'an 30.20-25
Atharva Veda 10.8.31: Cf. Rig Veda 10.85.1, p. 150. On beauty as an attribute of God, cf. Rig Veda 5.82.57, p. 138. Yasna 50.10: Zarathustra is equating the beauty of nature and the revelation of God through
his prophet--natural revelation and special revelation--as testifying equally to the glory of God. Psalm
19.1-4: There are slight differences in versification among the various Christian and Jewish Bibles. This
anthology has adopted the versification of English-language Protestant Christian Bibles. Qur'an 6.95-99
and 30.20-25: It is a cardinal doctrine of Islam that God's signs are to be found everywhere. Recognizing
God as the source of these bounties, humans should be thankful; cf. Qur'an 16.10-18, p. 141; 55.5-30,
pp. 128f. In the opening verse, 'splits the grain...' refers to sprouting and new life. Verse 22 grounds the
equality of the races in their common source as God's creatures; cf. Qur'an 35.27-28, p. 282.
For each and every form He is the Model;
it is His form that is to be seen everywhere;
Indra moves multiform by His creative charm;
The bay steeds yoked to His car are a thousand.
16. Hinduism. Rig Veda 6.47.18
All things are made to bear record of Me, both things which are temporal and things which are
spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things
which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things
bear record of Me.
17. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Pearl of Great Price, Moses 6.63
Praise be God, Who knows the secrets of all things and proofs of Whose existence shine in
various phases of nature. No physical eye has and will ever see Him. But those who have not
seen Him physically cannot deny His existence, yet the minds of those who have accepted His
existence cannot grasp the real essence of Divine Nature. His place is so high that nothing can be
imagined higher. He is so near to us that nothing can be nearer. The eminence of His position has
not placed Him any further away from His creatures, and His nearness has not brought them on a
par with Him. He has not permitted the human mind to grasp the essence of His Being, yet He
has not prevented them from realizing His presence. Various aspects of the universe force even
atheists to accept Him [as its Grand Architect], yet He is so far above the conceptions of those
who refuse His existence, and also of those who imagine His attributes in various expressions of
18. Islam (Shiite). Nahjul Balagha, Khutba 54
No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him
19. Christianity. Bible, John 1.18
When Abraham saw the sun issuing in the morning from the east, he was first moved to think
that that was God, and said, "This is the King that created me," and worshipped it the whole day.
In the evening when the sun went down and the moon commenced to shine, he said, "Verily this
rules over the orb which I worshipped the whole day, since the latter is darkened before it and
does not shine any more." So he served the moon all that night. In the morning when he saw the
darkness depart and the east grow light, he said, "Of a surety there is a King who rules over all
these orbs and orders them."
20. Judaism. Zohar, Genesis 86a
So also did We show Abraham the power and the laws of the heavens and the earth, that he
might have certitude. When the night covered him over, he saw a star; he said, "This is my
Lord." But when it set, he said, "I love not those that set." When he saw the moon rising in
splendor, he said, "This is my Lord," but when the moon set, he said, "Unless my Lord guide me,
I shall surely be among those who go astray." When he saw the sun rising in splendor, he said,
"This is my Lord; this is the greatest of all," but when the sun set, he said, "O my people! I am
indeed free from your [error] of ascribing partners to God. For me, I have set my face firmly and
truly towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I ascribe partners to
21. Islam. Qur'an 6.75-79
John 1.18: For Christianity, the book of nature and a person's own spiritual experience give only partial
knowledge of Ultimate Reality. Only through the special revelation of God in Jesus Christ is the fullness
of God's nature made manifest in the world. Cf. John 14.6, p. 629, and comparable passages; Lotus Sutra
2, p. 154. Zohar, Genesis 86a: Cf. Genesis Rabbah 39.1, p. 593.
World Scripture
In this section are collected passages describing the unity of God. First are texts proclaiming the oneness
of Absolute Reality: God in the monotheistic religions, a Primal Absolute at the root of phenomena in
Confucian and Taoist metaphysical texts, and a reality that in Mahayana Buddhism is called Nirvana or
Suchness and which transcends any being, divine or human. Next come passages, especially from the
Hindu tradition, which recognize many deities but recognize them to be the diverse manifestations of
the One that is beyond any name. Or, in the case of Native American religion, the many spiritual forces
are one by virtue of their solidarity in action. For related texts on the One God who exists at the root of
all religions, see Prologue One Source and One Goal, pp... In sharp contrast to the above, we have also
included some representative passages, largely from the monotheistic religions, which define the
Oneness of God in contradistinction to all other existence. Other divine beings are regarded at best as
subordinate to the One God and at worst as illusory or demonic: see Idolatry, pp. 286-89.
Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Deuteronomy 6.4
I am the Lord, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God.
2. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 45.5
Say, He is God, the One!
God, the eternally Besought of all!
He neither begets nor was begotten.
And there is none comparable unto Him.
3. Islam. Qur'an 112
He is the one God, hidden in all beings, all-pervading, the Self within all beings, watching over
all works, dwelling in all beings, the witness, the perceiver, the only one, free from qualities.
4. Hinduism. Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.11
He is the Sole Supreme Being; of eternal manifestation;
Creator, Immanent Reality; Without Fear, Without Rancor;
Timeless Form; Unincarnated; Self-existent;
Realized by the grace of the Holy Preceptor.
5. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji, p. 1: The Mul Mantra
The sage clasps the Primal Unity,
Testing by it everything under heaven.
6. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 22
Absolute truth is indestructible. Being indestructible, it is eternal. Being eternal, it is selfexistent. Being self-existent, it is infinite. Being infinite, it is vast and deep. Being vast and deep,
it is transcendental and intelligent. It is because it is vast and deep that it contains all existence. It
is because it is transcendental and intelligent that it embraces all existence. It is because it is
infinite and eternal that it fulfills or perfects all existence. In vastness and depth it is like the
Earth. In transcendental intelligence it is like Heaven. Infinite and eternal, it is the Infinite itself.
Such being the nature of absolute truth, it manifests itself without being seen; it produces effects
without motion; it accomplishes its ends without action.
7. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 26
Deuteronomy 6.4: The opening lines of the Shema, p. 55. Qur'an 112: This sura, which concludes the
Qur'an (except for two prayers for protection), has been called the essence of the Qur'an. God's oneness
implies that all reality is a unity (tawhid): see Qur'an 2.115, p. 109. Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.11: This is a
favorite verse of Shankara: see Vedanta Sutras I.1.4; cf. Sama Veda 372, p. 766. Doctrine of the Mean
26: Compare descriptions of the Tao and Dharmakaya as a single transcendent principle, e.g., Tao Te
Ching 25, p. 95, and Garland Sutra 37, p. 96.
When appearances and names are put away and all discrimination ceases, that which remains is the true
and essential nature of things and, as nothing can be predicated as to the nature of essence, is called the
"Suchness" of Reality. This universal, undifferentiated, inscrutable Suchness is the only Reality, but it is
variously characterized as Truth, Mind-essence, Transcendental Intelligence, Perfection of Wisdom, etc.
This Dharma of the imagelessness of the Essence-nature of Ultimate Reality is the Dharma which has
been proclaimed by all the Buddhas, and when all things are understood in full agreement with it, one is
in possession of Perfect Knowledge.
8. Buddhism. Lankavatara Sutra
Tathagatas certainly do not come from anywhere, nor do they go anywhere. Because Suchness
does not move, and the Tathagata is Suchness. Non-production does not come nor go, and the
Tathagata is non-production. One cannot conceive of the coming or going of the reality-limit,
and the Tathagata is the reality-limit. The same can be said of emptiness, of what exists in
accordance with fact, of dispassion, of stopping, of the element of space. For the Tathagata is not
outside these dharmas. The Suchness of these dharmas and the Suchness of all dharmas and the
Suchness of the Tathagata are simply this one single Suchness. There is no division within
Suchness. Just simply one single is this Suchness, not two, nor three.
9. Buddhism. Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 31.1
Then Vidaghdha, son of Shakala, asked him, "How many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"
Yajnavalkya, ascertaining the number through a group of mantras known as the Nivid, replied,
"As many as are mentioned in the Nivid of the gods: three hundred and three, and three thousand
and three."
"Very good," said the son of Shakala, "and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"
"Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"
"Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"
"Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"
"Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"
"One and a half."
"Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"
10. Hinduism. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.9.1
Lankavatara Sutra: This sutra teaches that the existing world is created by mind. The world of
appearances, which is characterized by suffering, is rooted in the seeds of defilements that are
accumulated in the subconscious mind. True Reality is what is realized when all defilements have been
removed and the mind operates with Perfect Wisdom. The Suchness of existence is thus identical with
the essence of Mind. Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 31.1: This is one of the earliest
Mahayana sutras, and the first which used the word Mahayana. The doctrine of Suchness deals with the
unchanging truth beyond the limit of phenomenal reality. It is the same as Emptiness--the doctrine that
one cannot rely upon any phenomenon, as all are impermanent, relative, and conditioned by other
phenomena. It is also the same as the Tathagata, that is, the Buddha whose essence is eternity.
There is only one God; all the "gods" are but His ministering angels who are His manifestations.
11. Omoto Kyo. Michi-no-Shiori
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the
same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in
every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
12. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 12.4-7
God said to Israel, "Because you have seen me in many likenesses, there are not therefore many
gods. But it is ever the same God: I am the Lord your God." Rabbi Levi said, "God appeared to
them like a mirror, in which many faces can be reflected; a thousand people look at it; it looks at
all of them." So when God spoke to the Israelites, each one thought that God spoke individually
to him.
13. Judaism. Midrash, Pesikta Kahana 109b-110a
Just as light is diffused from a fire which is confined to one spot, so is this whole universe the
diffused energy of the supreme Brahman. And as light shows a difference, greater or less,
according to its nearness or distance from the fire, so is there a variation in the energy of the
impersonal Brahman. Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are his chief energies. The deities are inferior
to them; the yakshas, etc. to the deities; men, cattle, wild animals, birds, and reptiles to the
yakshas, etc.; and trees and plants are the lowest of all these energies....
Vishnu is the highest and most immediate of all the energies of Brahman, the embodied
Brahman, formed of the whole Brahman. On him this entire universe is woven and interwoven:
from him is the world, and the world is in him; and he is the whole universe. Vishnu, the Lord,
consisting of what is perishable as well as what is imperishable, sustains everything, both Spirit
and Matter, in the form of his ornaments and weapons.
14. Hinduism. Vishnu Purana 1
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.9.1: The infinite number of gods is included in the limited number
represented in the Nivid, these are again but manifestations of the Thirty-three, and these are likewise
included in the successively more fundamental things down to the One, That, Brahman. Cf. Rig Veda
1.164.46, p. 59. Michi-no-Shiori: Cf. Hebrews 1.14, p. 368. Vishnu Purana 1: The first paragraph is a good
statement of Pantheism and the theory of creation by emanation. Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are
sometimes called the Hindu trinity. Cf. Chun Boo Kyung, p. 95.
Every object in the world has a spirit, and that spirit is wakan. Thus the spirits of the tree or things of
that kind, while not like the spirit of man, are also wakan. Wakan comes from the wakan beings. These
wakan beings are greater than mankind in the same way that mankind is greater than animals. They are
never born and never die. They can do many things that mankind cannot do. Mankind can pray to the
wakan beings for help. There are many of these beings but all are of four kinds. The word Wakan Tanka
means all of the wakan beings because they are all as if one.
Wakan Tanka Kin signifies the chief or leading wakan being, which is the Sun. However, the
most powerful of the wakan beings is Nagk Tanka, the Great Spirit, who is also called Taku
Shanskan, the Sky....
Mankind is permitted to pray to the wakan beings. If their prayer is directed to all the good
wakan beings, they should pray to Wakan Tanka; but if the prayer is offered to only one of these
beings, then the one addressed should be named.... Wakan Tanka is like sixteen different
persons; but each person is kan. Therefore, they are only the same as one.
15. Native American Religions. Dakota Tradition
O God, You are great,
You are the one who created me,
I have no other.
God, You are in the heavens,
You are the only one:
Now my child is sick,
And You will grant me my desire.
16. African Traditional Religions. Anuak Prayer (Sudan)
God has not chosen any son, nor is there any god along with Him; else each god would have
surely championed that which he created, and some of them would have overcome others.
Glorified be God above all that they allege... exalted be He over all that they ascribe as partners
unto Him!
17. Islam. Qur'an 23.91-92
We know that an idol has no real existence, and that there is no God but one. For although there
may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth--as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"-yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and
one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
18. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 8.4-6
Only from the unitary and unified Cause, can the unified resultant world be created.
19. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 10-13-72
To Him belong all creatures in the heavens and on the earth: even those who are in His very
Presence are not too proud to serve Him, nor are they ever weary. They celebrate His praises
night and day, nor do they ever flag or intermit. Or have they taken gods from the earth who can
raise the dead? If there were, in the heavens or in the earth, other gods besides God, there would
have been confusion in both! But glory to God, the Lord of the Throne; high is He above what
they attribute to Him!
20. Islam. Qur'an 21.19-22
Dakota Tradition: This is a concise statement of the solidarity of all spiritual forces; see Cree Round
Dance Song, p. 55; Zuni Song, p. 295; Sioux Tradition, p. 370; Yanomami Shaman, p. 370; Winnebago
Invocation, p. 373. Qur'an 23.91-92: Cf. Qur'an 18.110, p. 655; 29.41, p. 403; and related passages.
Qur'an 21.19-22: Cf. Qur'an 21.26-29, p. 263.
World Scripture
This section treats Ultimate Reality as a mystery, not a thing that can be defined by form or a concept of
being. In the monotheistic religions, God is beyond any human concept, hidden, and inscrutable: 'My
thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.' The prohibition of images is a
statement about the utter transcendence of God, for to make an idol to represent God is to reduce the
infinite to finitude. Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Taoism affirm the ineffability of Ultimate Reality in
their assertions that no words or intellection can properly convey its nature. It is beyond all duality, e.g.,
all attempts to think of it as a "thing" separate from other things. Its nature is emptiness.
Emptiness in the eastern religions should never be misunderstood as a cognitive statement about
Reality--such a statement or its referent is a "thing" and cannot itself be empty. Rather, as the
Buddhist scholar Edward Conze writes,
Emptiness is not a theory, but a ladder that reaches out into the infinite. A ladder is not there to be
discussed, but to be climbed.... It is a practical concept, and it embodies an aspiration, not a view. Its
only use is to help us to get rid of this world and of the ignorance which binds us to it. It has not only one
meaning, but several, which can unfold themselves on the successive stages of the actual process of
transcending the world through wisdom. Not everyone, of course, is meant to understand what
emptiness means. In that case it is better to pass on to something else.1
Truly Thou art a God who hidest Thyself.
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 45.15
Invent not similitudes for God; for God knows, and you know not.
2. Islam. Qur'an 16.74
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
3. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 55.8-9
No vision can grasp Him,
But His grasp is over all vision;
He is above all comprehension,
Yet is acquainted with all things.
4. . Islam. Qur'an 6.103
Can you find out the deep things of God?
Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
It is higher than heaven--what can you do?
Deeper than Sheol--what can you know?
Its measure is longer than the earth,
and broader than the sea.
5. . Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Job 11.7-9
We raise to degrees of wisdom whom We please; but over all endued with knowledge is One, the
6. Islam. Qur'an 12.76
At this time the World-honored One serenely arose from meditation and addressed Shariputra,
"The wisdom of all the Buddhas is infinitely profound and immeasurable. The portal to this
wisdom is difficult to understand and difficult to enter. Neither men of learning nor men of
realization are able to comprehend it."
7. . Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 2
1 Conze, Selected Sayings from the Perfection of Wisdom (Boulder: Prajna Press, 1978) 24. Isaiah 55.8-9:
Cf. 1 Corinthians 1.20-25, p. 798. Lotus Sutra 2: 'men of learning' are shravakas who rightly understand
the Four Noble Truths and who attain arhatship. 'men of realization' are pratyekabuddhas who rightly
understand the twelve links of causation and who attain pratyekabuddhahood through solitary effort
and meditation. This sutra was composed in a period of rivalry among the various schools of Buddhism.
The Buddha goes on to say that the only way to enter the door is by faith.
If you think that you know well the truth of Brahman, know that you know little. What you think to be
Brahman in your self, or what you think to be Brahman in the gods--that is not Brahman. What is indeed
the truth of Brahman you must therefore learn.
I cannot say that I know Brahman fully. Nor can I say that I know Him not. He among us knows
Him best who understands the spirit of the words, "Nor do I know that I know Him not."
He truly knows Brahman who knows Him as beyond knowledge; he who thinks that he knows,
knows not. The ignorant think that Brahman is known, but the wise know Him to be beyond
8. Hinduism. Kena Upanishad 2.1-3
All praise and glory is due the Lord, whose worth cannot be described even by the greatest
rhetoricians of all times... None can fully understand or explain His Being however hard he may
try. Reason and sagacity cannot visualize Him. Intelligence, understanding, and attainment
cannot attain the depths of knowledge to study and scrutinize the Godhead. Human faculties of
conception, perception and learning, and attributes of volition, intuition and apprehension cannot
catch sight of His Person or fathom the extent of His might and glory. His attributes cannot be
fixed, limited or defined. There do not exist words in any language to specify or define His
qualities, peculiarities, characteristics or singularities.
9. Islam (Shiite). Nahjul Balagha, Khutba 1
I asked the Messenger of God, "Did you see thy Lord?" He said, "He is a Light; how could I see
10. Islam. Hadith of Muslim
Verily, there exist seventy thousand veils of light and darkness before God. If He were to lift
them, the light of the Majesty of His countenance would consume all of creation within sight.
11. Islam. Hadith
God is formless. If you think He is big, He is infinite, and if you think He is small, He is
12. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 10-13-70
The eye cannot see it; the mind cannot grasp it.
The deathless Self has neither caste nor race,
Neither eyes nor ears nor hands nor feet.
Sages say this Self is infinite in the great
And in the small, everlasting and changeless,
The source of life.
13. Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.6
Kena Upanishad 2.1-3: Cf. 1 Corinthians 8.1-3, p. 796; Diamond Sutra 21, p. 800; Sirach 24.26-27, p. 806.
Nahjul Balagha: Cf. 1 Corinthians 1.20-25, p. 798. Hadith: On the notion that God is the transcendent
and veiled center, see also Katha Upanishad 2.3.7-8, p. 93; 3.13, p. 840; Ezekiel 1.3-28, pp. 100f.; Zohar,
p. 324.
In the beginning was God,
Today is God
Tomorrow will be God.
Who can make an image of God?
He has no body.
He is as a word which comes out of your mouth.
That word! It is no more,
It is past, and still it lives!
So is God.
14. African Traditional Religions. Pygmy Hymn (Zaire)
Moses said, "I pray thee, show me thy glory." And [the Lord] said, "I will make all my goodness
pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name 'The Lord'; and I will be gracious to
whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." "But," he said, "you
cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live." And the Lord said, "Behold, there is a
place by me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in
a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take
away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen."
15. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Exodus 33.18-23
Moses said to God, "Show me now thy ways" (Exodus 33.13). And He showed them to him, as it
is said, "He made known His ways unto Moses" (Psalm 103.7). Then Moses said, "Show me now
thy glory" (Exodus 33.18), that is, "the attributes wherewith thou governest the world." Then
God said, "Thou canst not comprehend my attributes."
16. Judaism. Midrash, Psalm 25.4
The Formless is Attributed and Unattributed,
And gone into absorption in the cosmic Void.
Himself has He made creation; Himself on it meditates.
In the cosmic Void is he absorbed,
Where plays the unstruck mystic music-Beyond expression is this miraculous wonder.
17. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri Sukhmani 21; 23.1, M.5, pp. 290, 293
The way that can be spoken of
Is not the eternal Way;
The name that can be named
Is not the eternal name.
The nameless was the beginning of heaven and earth;
The named was the mother of the myriad creatures.
Hence always rid yourself of desire in order to observe its secrets;
But always allow yourself to have desires in order to observe its manifestations.
These two are the same
But diverge in name as they issue forth.
Being the same they are called mysteries,
Mystery upon mystery-The gateway of the manifold secrets.
18. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 1
Midrash on Psalms: The true nature of God is beyond any of his attributes as humanly conceived; cf. The
Kaddish, pp. 53f. Gauri Sukhmani: On the music of the spheres, see Qur'an 71.15, p. 325.
You look at it, but it is not to be seen;
Its name is Formless.
You listen to it, but it is not to be heard;
Its name is Soundless.
You grasp it, but it is not to be held;
Its name is Bodiless.
These three elude all scrutiny,
And hence they blend and become one.
Its upper side is not bright;
Its under side is not dimmed.
Continuous, unceasing, and unnameable,
It reverts to nothingness.
It is called formless form, thingless image;
It is called the elusive, the evasive.
Confronting it, you do not see its face;
Following it, you do not see its back.
Yet by holding fast to this Way of old,
You can harness the events of the present,
You can know the beginnings of the past-Here is the essence of the Way.
19. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 14
All voices get reflected there in the Supreme Soul (Paramatman). There is no reason; the intellect
fails to grasp him. He is one and alone, bodiless and the Knower. He is neither long nor short,
nor a circle nor a triangle, nor a quadrilateral nor a sphere. He is neither black nor blue nor red
nor yellow nor white. He is neither a pleasant smell nor an unpleasant smell. He is neither
pungent nor bitter nor astringent nor sour nor sweet. He is neither hard nor soft, neither heavy
nor light, neither cold nor hot, neither rough nor smooth. He is bodiless. He is not subject to
birth. He is free from attachment. He is neither female nor male nor neuter. He is immaculate
knowledge and intuition. There exists no simile to comprehend him. He is formless existence. He
is what baffles all terminology. There is no word to comprehend him. He is neither sound nor
form nor odor nor taste nor touch. Only so much I say.
20. Jainism. Acarangasutra 5.123-40
The capacity of the mind is as great as that of space. It is infinite, neither round nor square,
neither great nor small, neither green nor yellow, neither red nor white, neither above nor below,
neither long nor short, neither angry nor happy, neither right nor wrong, neither good nor evil,
neither first nor last. All universes are as void as space. Intrinsically our transcendental nature is
void and not a single thing can be attained. It is the same with the Essence of Mind, which is a
state of Absolute Void.
21. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 2
Reversion is the action of Tao.
Weakness is the function of Tao.
All things in the world came from being;
And being comes from non-being.
22. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 40
Here, O Shariputra, form is emptiness, and the very emptiness is form; emptiness does not differ
from form, form does not differ from emptiness; whatever is form, that is emptiness, whatever is
emptiness, that is form. The same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness.
23. Buddhism. Heart Sutra
Vimalakirti, "Manjusri, all worlds are empty."
Manjusri, "What makes them empty?"
"They are empty because [their ultimate reality is] emptiness."
"What is 'empty' about emptiness?"
"Constructions are empty, because of emptiness."
"Can emptiness be conceptually constructed?"
"Even that concept is itself empty, and emptiness cannot construct emptiness."
24. Buddhism. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 5
Tao Te Ching 1: The 'way,' that is, the Tao. Acarangasutra 5.123-40: This is the fundamental statement of
Mahavira's enlightenment. In Jainism, the Supreme Soul is not God, but rather the condition of the
liberated human soul, which in liberation becomes eternal, infinite, blissful, omniscient, and supreme in
all the cosmos. Cf. Niyamasara 176-77, p. 226; Pancastikaya 170, p. 197. Sutra of Hui Neng 2: Cf.
Mumonkan 33, p. 899. Tao Te Ching 40: Cf. Chuang Tzu 12, pp. 589. Heart Sutra: This famous and
enigmatic statement declares that all material phenomena are relative existences. Even emptiness itself
is, if considered as a separate thing, a relative existence. At the same time, all material phenomena in
their relativity participate in emptiness. The complete sutra is given on pp. 598f. Cf. Katha Upanishad
2.1.10-11, p. 588. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 5: This is a conversation between Vimalakirti, who is a
wealthy lay Buddhist well versed in Mahayana teachings, and Manjusri, one of the great Bodhisattvas.
The doctrine of emptiness (sunyata) is too profound for words; to describe it leads only to an infinite
regress. This sutra is a favorite of lay Buddhists as Vimalakirti, the layman, excels all the monks and
bodhisattvas in wisdom. Cf. Diamond Sutra 21, p. 800; Lankavatara Sutra 61, pp. 634f.; Mumonkan 33, p.
As long as there is duality, one sees "the other," one hears "the other," one smells "the other," one
speaks to "the other," one thinks of "the other," one knows "the other"; but when for the illumined soul
the all is dissolved in the Self, who is there to be seen by whom, who is there to be smelled by whom,
who is there to be heard by whom, who is there to be spoken to by whom, who is there to be thought of
by whom, who is there to be known by whom? Ah, Maitreyi, my beloved, the Intelligence which reveals
all--by what shall it be revealed? By whom shall the Knower be known? The Self is described as "not this,
not that" (neti, neti). It is incomprehensible, for it cannot be comprehended; undecaying, for it never
decays; unattached, for it never attaches itself; unbound, for it is never bound. By whom, O my beloved,
shall the Knower be known?
25. Hinduism. Bhrihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.5.15
What is never cast off, seized, interrupted, constant, extinguished, and produced--this is called
Indeed, Nirvana is not strictly in the nature of ordinary existence for, if it were, there would
wrongly follow the characteristics of old age and death. For, such an existence cannot be without
those characteristics.
If Nirvana is strictly in the nature of ordinary existence, it would be of the created realm. For, no
ordinary existence of the uncreated realm ever exists anywhere at all.
If Nirvana is strictly in the nature of ordinary existence, why is it non-appropriating? For, no
ordinary existence that is non-appropriating ever exists.
If Nirvana is not strictly in the nature of ordinary existence, how could what is in the nature of
non-existence be Nirvana? Where there is no existence, equally so, there can be no nonexistence.
If Nirvana is in the nature of non-existence, why is it non-appropriating? For, indeed, a nonappropriating non-existence does not prevail.
The status of the birth-death cycle is due to existential grasping [of the skandhas] and relational
condition [of the being]. That which is non-grasping and non-relational is taught as Nirvana.
The Teacher has taught the abandonment of the concepts of being and non-being. Therefore,
Nirvana is properly neither [in the realm of] existence nor non-existence.
If Nirvana is [in the realm of] both existence and non-existence, then liberation will also be both.
But that is not proper.
If Nirvana is [in the realm of] both existence and non-existence, it will not be non-appropriating.
For, both realms are always in the process of appropriating.
How could Nirvana be [in the realm of] both existence and non-existence? Nirvana is of the
uncreated realm while existence and non-existence are of the created realm.
How could Nirvana be [in the realm of] both existence and non-existence? Both cannot be
together in one place just as the situation is with light and darkness.
The proposition that Nirvana is neither existence nor non-existence could only be valid if and
when the realms of existence and non-existence are established.
If indeed Nirvana is asserted to be neither existence nor non-existence, then by what means are
the assertions to be known?
It cannot be said that the Blessed One exists after nirodha (release from worldly desires). Nor can
it be said that He does not exist after nirodha, or both, or neither.
It cannot be said that the Blessed One even exists in the present living process. Nor can it be said
that He does not exist in the present living process, or both, or neither.
Samsara (the empirical life-death cycle) is nothing essentially different from Nirvana. Nirvana is
nothing essentially different from Samsara.
The limits of Nirvana are the limits of Samsara. Between the two, also, there is not the slightest
difference whatsoever.
The various views concerning the status of life after nirodha, the limits of the world, the concept
of permanence, etc., are all based on [such concepts as] Nirvana, posterior and anterior states of
Since all factors of existence are in the nature of Emptiness (sunya), why assert the finite, the
infinite, both finite and Infinite, and neither finite nor infinite?
Why assert the identity, difference, permanence, impermanence, both permanence and
impermanence, or neither permanence nor impermanence?
All acquisitions [i.e., grasping] as well as play of concepts [i.e., symbolic representation] are
basically in the nature of cessation and quiescence. Any factor of experience with regards to
anyone at any place was never taught by the Buddha.
26. Buddhism. Nagarjuna, Mulamadhyamaka Karika 25
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.5.15: This is the classic statement of the via negativa, as the seeker
gradually strips away all relative phenomena, descending ever deeper into darkness. Through such an
emptying of the soul, perhaps the Absolute may be found. Cf. Chuang Tzu 2, p. 181. Mulamadhyamaka
Karika 25: In this well-known passage, Nagarjuna sets forth a logical argument for the identity of Nirvana
(unconditioned existence) and Samsara (the world of changing, relative and interdependent
phenomena). Cf. Heart Sutra, p. 589f.; Lankavatara Sutra 78, p 182; Milarepa, p. 587.
World Scripture
This and the following sections describe the various attributes of Ultimate Reality. We have
selected passages on the essential nature of Ultimate Reality as transcendent and beyond all
phenomenal existence. They teach that at the same time, Ultimate Reality is all-pervasive and
immanent, the "ground of being," the source of the energy within every atom and the life in
every creature. Yet God's involvement with the world, even His immanence in all things, in no
way limits or affects His essential, absolute nature. God's glory fills the world, but the world
cannot exhaust God. Finally, we conclude with some well-known theophanies which reveal, in a
manner far more vivid than is possible through theological conceptions alone, the transcendence
of divinity and the all-pervasiveness of Truth. Beyond the senses is the mind, beyond the mind is
the intellect, higher than the intellect is the Great Atman [the totality of all minds], higher than
the Great Atman is the Umanifest. Beyond the Unmanifest is the Person, all-pervading, and
1. Hinduism. Katha Upanishad 2.3.7-8
Katha Upanishad 2.3.7-8: The specific meanings of these successive levels of reality are in some dispute.
The mind is the seat of emotion, perceptions, and consciousness. The intellect (budhi) is a finer faculty
of enlightened discrimination. The Great Atman is understood by some as the Ego, by others as the
collective consciousness of all minds. The Unmanifest is either the undifferentiated consciousness of
reality or Brahman in his attribute as the seed of the causal realm. The Person (Purusha) may be
Brahman or the Supreme Being. For other Upanishadic discussions of four levels of reality, see Katha
Upanishad 3.13, p. 840; Mandukya Upanishad, p. 834. Compare the Hadith of the veils, p. 87; the
mystical interpretation of Qur'an 24.35, p. 116; and the Zohar's discourse on the nut garden, p. 324.
God! there is no God but He,
the Living, the Everlasting.
Slumber seizes Him not, neither sleep;
to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth.
Who is there who shall intercede with Him
save by His leave?
He knows what lies before them
and what is after them,
and they comprehend not anything of His knowledge
save such as He wills.
His throne comprises the heavens and earth;
the preserving of them oppresses Him not;
He is the All-high, the All-glorious.
2. Islam. Qur'an 2.255: The Throne Verse
The Self is one. Ever still, the Self is
Swifter than thought, swifter than the senses.
Though motionless, he outruns all pursuit.
Without the Self, never could life exist.
The Self seems to move, but is ever still.
He seems far away, but is ever near.
He is within all, and he transcends all.
The Self is everywhere. Bright is the Self,
Indivisible, untouched by sin, wise,
Immanent and transcendent. He it is
Who holds the cosmos together.
3. Hinduism. Isha Upanishad 4-8
Some sing of His noble attributes and exalted state.
Some express Him through philosophical intricacies and ratiocination.
Some tell of His giving life and taking it away.
Some sing of His taking away life and giving it back.
Some sing of His transcendence;
To some is He ever manifest.
Millions upon millions discourse endlessly of Him.
Eternally He doles out gifts;
Those receiving them at last can receive no more.
Infinitely the creation receives from Him sustenance.
He is the Ordainer;
By His Ordinance the universe He runs.
Says Nanak, Ever is He in bliss,
Ever fulfilled.
4. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 3, M.1, p. 1-2
Isha Upanishad 4-8: Vv. 4, 5, 8. Compare Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.11, p. 80, Chandogya Upanishad
7.25.2, p. 530.
"In what does the Infinite rest?"
"In its own glory--nay, not even in that. In the world it is said
that cows and horses, elephants and gold, slaves, wives, fields, and houses
are man's glory--but these are poor and finite things.
How shall the Infinite rest anywhere but in itself?
"The infinite is below, above, behind, before, to the right, to the
left. I am all this. This Infinite is the Self. The Self is below, above,
behind, before, to the right, to the left. I am all this. One who knows,
meditates upon, and realizes the truth of the Self--such a one delights in
the Self, rejoices in the Self. He becomes master of himself, master of
all worlds. Slaves are they who know not this truth."
5. Hinduism. Chandogya Upanishad 7.23-25
Caesar said to Rabbi Gamaliel, "You state that whenever ten Israelites are assembled, the
Shechinah (Divine Presence) is found. How many Shechinahs are there then?" Rabbi Gamaliel
summoned the ruler's servant, struck him on the neck, and asked, "Why did you permit the sun to
enter the house of your master?" Thereupon the ruler replied, "The sun shines over all the earth."
Rabbi Gamaliel then said, "If the sun, which is only one of the hundred million servants of the
Lord, can shine over all the earth, how much more would this be true for the Shechinah of the
Lord Himself?"
6. Judaism. Talmud, Sanhedrin 39a
There was something undifferentiated and yet complete,
Which existed before heaven and earth.
Soundless and formless, it depends on nothing and does not change.
It operates everywhere and is free from danger.
It may be considered the mother of the universe.
I do not know its name; I call it Tao.
If forced to give it a name, I shall call it Great.
Now being great means functioning everywhere.
Functioning everywhere means far-reaching.
Being far-reaching means returning to the original point.
7. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 25
Any and everything of this universe is all the body of God.
8. Tenrikyo. Ofudesaki, 3.40
God's mind is not only in His Word, but also in everything He created. God's mind exists
wherever we go in heaven or on earth.
9. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 12-13-59
The one that is visible begins from the invisible. The invisible consists of three ultimates, and
their essence is infinite.
10. Korean Religions. Chun Boo Kyung
Sanhedrin 39a: The saying about ten Israelites refers to the minyan, the minimum number of men
required to start a synagogue. But the holy spirit (Shechinah) can come among even two gathered
together in God's name; cf. Abot 3.2, p. 271. Tao Te Ching 25: Cf. Doctrine of the Mean 26, p. 80; I Ching,
Great Commentary 1.10.4, p. 121. Chun Boo Kyung: God as the cause is one body, but three in function.
These three spirits appear in the world of phenomena as three poles: sung (character), myung (life), and
chung (energy). Since the essence of the one is infinite, the three poles are divided and yet undivided. It
is everywhere self-existing and omnipresent. Another interpretation: the three ultimate poles are
manifest in the invisible world as internal character or mind, external form or substance, and their unity
as substantial beings; and they are similarly manifest in the visible world as proton, electron, and
neutron. Cf. Vishnu Purana 1, p. 82.
Divinity is that which was there before the appearance of heaven and earth, and which gives form to
them; that which surpasses the yin and the yang, yet has the quality of them. This Divinity is thus the
absolute existence, governing the entire universe of heaven and earth, yet at the same time, it dwells
within all things, where it is called spirit; omnipresent within human beings, it is called mind.
In other words, human mind communes with the Divinity which is ruler of heaven and earth;
mind and Divinity are one and the same. Divinity is the root origin of heaven and earth, the
spiritual nature of all things, and the source of human destiny. Itself without form, it is Divinity
which nurtures things with form.
11. Shinto. Kanetomo Yoshida, An Outline of Shinto
Buddha abides in the infinite, the unobstructed, ultimate realm of reality, in the realm of space, in
the essence of True Thusness, without birth or death, and in ultimate truth, appearing to sentient
beings according to the time, sustained by past vows, without ever ceasing, not abandoning all
beings, all lands, all phenomena....
How should enlightening beings see the body of Buddha? (Dharmakaya) They should see the
body of Buddha in infinite places. Why? They should not see Buddha in just one thing, one
phenomenon, one body, one land, one being--they should see Buddha everywhere. Just as space
is omnipresent, in all places, material or immaterial, yet without either arriving or not arriving
there, because space is incorporeal, in the same way Buddha is omnipresent, in all places, in all
beings, in all things, in all lands, yet neither arriving nor not arriving there, because Buddha's
body is incorporeal, manifesting a body for the sake of sentient beings.
12. Buddhism. Garland Sutra 37
The Tathagata... is the essence which is the reality of matter, but he is not matter. He is the
essence which is the reality of sensation, but he is not sensation. He is the essence which is the
reality of intellect, but he is not intellect. He is the essence which is the reality of motivation, but
he is not motivation. He is the essence which is the reality of consciousness, yet he is not
consciousness. Like the element of space, he does not abide in any of the four elements.
Transcending the scope of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind, he is not produced in the six
sense media... He abides in ultimate reality, yet there is no relationship between it and him. He is
not produced from causes, nor does he depend on conditions. He is not without any
characteristic, nor has he any characteristic. He has no single nature nor a diversity of natures.
He is not a conception, not a mental construction, nor is he a nonconception. He is neither the
other shore, nor this shore, nor that between. He is neither here, nor there, nor anywhere else....
13. Buddhism. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 12
Garland Sutra 37: The teachings in this sutra are: (1) all beings equally possess Buddha nature when
viewed from the standpoint of the Ultimate Truth; (2) all phenomena come into being due to their
interdependence with other phenomena; (3) each experience contains all experience due to their
interdependent relationship. Cf. Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 5, p. 652. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 12:
The transcendence of Buddha is comparable to the Jain doctrine of the Paramatman, see Niyamasara
176-77, p. 22 6. Cf. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.5.15, p. 91; Mulamadhyamaka Karika 25, pp. 91f.
This Teacher of mine, this Teacher of mine--he passes judgment on the ten thousand things but he
doesn't think himself severe; his bounty extends to ten thousand generations but he doesn't think
himself benevolent. He is older than the highest antiquity but he doesn't think himself long-lived; he
covers heaven, bears up the earth, carves and fashions countless forms, but he doesn't think himself
skilled. It is with him alone I wander.
14. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 6
God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love.
Science reveals Spirit, Soul, as not in the body, and God as not in man but as reflected by man.
The greater cannot be in the lesser.... We reason imperfectly from effect to cause, when we
conclude that matter is the effect of Spirit; but a priori reasoning shows material existence to be
enigmatical. Spirit gives the true mental idea. We cannot interpret Spirit, Mind, through matter.
Matter neither sees, hears, nor feels.
15. Christian Science. Science and Health, 465, 467
The Supreme Being (Purusha) is thousand-headed,
thousand eyed, thousand footed;
and, pervading the earth on all sides,
He exists beyond the ten directions.
The Supreme Being, indeed, is all this,
what has been and what will be,
and the Lord of immortality
as well as of mortal creatures.
Such is His magnificence, but
the Supreme Being is even greater than this;
all beings are a fourth of Him,
three-fourths--His immortality--lie in heaven.
Three-fourths of the Supreme Being ascended;
the fourth part came here again and again,
and, diversified in form, it moved
to the animate and the inanimate world.
16. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.90.1-4
My material world is eightfold,
divided into earth, water,
Fire, air, ether, mind, the faculty of meditation,
and self-awareness.
This is the lower nature. My higher
nature is different.
It is the very life
that sustains the world.
Do not forget that this is the source
of all existence.
I am the genesis and the end
of the entire world.
There is nothing higher than I am,
O Conqueror of Wealth!
The world is strung on me
like pearls on a string.
17. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 7.4-7
Science and Health: The capitalized words 'Spirit' and 'Soul' are among the Seven Deific Synonyms for
God. Rig Veda 10.90.1-4: Cf. Rig Veda 1.164.45, p. 806; Svetasvatara Upanishad 3.7-10, p. 582.
Thou art the sun
Thou art the air
Thou art the moon
Thou art the starry firmament
Thou art Brahman Supreme;
Thou art the waters--thou, the Creator of all!
Thou art woman, thou art man,
Thou art the youth, thou art the maiden,
Thou art the old man tottering with his staff;
Thou facest everywhere.
Thou art the dark butterfly,
Thou art the green parrot with red eyes,
Thou art the thunder cloud, the seasons, the seas.
Without beginning art Thou,
Beyond time and space.
Thou art He from whom sprang
The three worlds.
18. Hinduism. Svetasvatara Upanishad 4.2-4
Tung-kuo Tzu asked Chuang Tzu, "What is called Tao--where is it?"
"It is everywhere," replied Chuang Tzu.
Tung-kuo Tzu said, "It will not do unless you are more specific."
"It is in the ant," said Chuang Tzu.
"Why go so low down?"
"It is in the weeds."
"Why even lower?"
"It is in a potsherd."
"Why still lower?"
"It is in the excrement and urine," said Chuang Tzu. Tung-kuo gave no response.
"Sir," said Chuang Tzu, "your question does not touch the essential. When inspector Huo asked
the superintendent of markets about the fatness of pigs, the tests were always made in parts less
and less likely to be fat. Do not insist on any particular thing. Nothing escapes from Tao. Such is
perfect Tao, and so is great speech. The three words, Complete, Entire, and All, differ in name
but are the same in actuality. They all designate the One."
19. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 22
Svetasvatara Upanishad 4.2-4: Cf. Rig Veda 6.47.18, p. 77.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train
filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and
with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said,
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of His glory.
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was
filled with smoke. And I said, "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I
dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of
20. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 6.1-5
Then the Buddha, wishing to enable all the enlightening beings to realize the spiritual power of
the boundless realm of the Enlightened One, emitted a light from between his brows. That light
was called the Treasury of the Light of Knowledge of All Enlightening Beings Illuminating the
Ten Directions. Its form was like a cloud of lamps with jewellike light. It shone throughout all
buddha fields in the ten directions, revealing all the lands and beings therein. It also caused all
networks of worlds to tremble. In every single atom it revealed innumerable Buddhas showering
the teachings of all the Buddhas of all times, in accord with the differences in character and
inclination of the various sentient beings. It clearly showed the Buddha's ocean of transcendent
ways, and also rained infinite clouds of various emancipations, causing the sentient beings to
forever cross over birth and death. It also showered clouds of the great vows of t he Buddhas,
and clearly showed, in all worlds in the ten directions, the universally good enlightening beings'
congregations at the sites of enlightenment. Having done all this, the light swirled around the
Buddha, circling to the right, then went in under his feet.
21. Buddhism. Garland Sutra 2
Chuang Tzu 22: Compare Mumonkan 21: "A man asked Umman, 'What is Buddha?' Umman replied,
'shit-stick (Kanshiketsu)!'" See Mumonkan 18, p. 590. Isaiah 6.1-5: This vision of God's glory in the
Temple is the prelude to Isaiah's call to be a prophet. Garland Sutra 2: In Buddhist scriptures, these
visions of the Buddha's transcendent reality generally introduce a sermon or a teaching. Here what
follows is the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra explaining the heavenly domain of the Buddha Vairocana. The
vision itself vividly depicts the Buddha's grace, as his light of compassion, the Sambhogakaya (see Lion's
Roar of Queen Srimala 5, p. 652), shines in all directions revealing the true Reality (dharmakaya). Cf.
Udana 49, p. 535, and comparable passages on enlightenment.
Jacob... came to a certain place, and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the
stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed that
there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of
God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, "I am the Lord,
the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to
your descendants; and your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad
to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; by you and your descendants shall all the
families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring
you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you." Then
Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it." And he was
afraid, and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the
gate of heaven."
22. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Genesis 28.10-17
"I John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the
patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos, [exiled] on account of the word of God and
the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice
like a trumpet... Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw
seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands was one like a son of man, clothed
with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast; his head and his hair were white as
white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished
bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; in his right
hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like
the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his
right hand upon me, saying, 'Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and
behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Now write what you
see, what is and what is to take place hereafter.'"
23. Christianity. Bible, Revelation 1.9-19
The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by
the river Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was upon him there.
As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness
round about it, and the fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were
gleaming bronze. And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this
was their appearance: they had the form of men, but each had four faces, and each of them had
four wings.... As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man in front, the four had
the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had
the face of an eagle at the back. Such were their faces. And their wings were spread out above;
each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their
bodies. And each went straight forward; wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning
as they went. In the midst of the living creatures there was something that looked like burning
coals of fire, like torches moving to and fro among the living creatures; and the fire was bright,
and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures darted to and fro, like a flash of
Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel upon the earth beside the living creatures,
one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their
appearance was like the gleaming of chrysolite; and the four had the same likeness, their
construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. When they went, they went in any of their
four directions without turning as they went. The four wheels had rims and they had spokes; and
their rims were full of eyes round about. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went
beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose... for the spirit of
the living creatures was in the wheels.
Over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of a firmament, shining like crystal,
spread out above their heads. And under the firmament their wings were stretched out straight,
one toward another; and each creature had two wings covering its body. And when they went, I
heard the sound of their wings like the sound of many waters, like the thunder of the Almighty, a
sound of tumult like the sound of a host....
And above the firmament over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like
sapphire; and seated on the throne was a likeness as it were of a human form. And upward from
what had the appearance of his loins I saw as it were gleaming bronze, like the appearance of fire
enclosed round about; and downward from what had the appearance of his loins I saw as it were
the appearance of fire, and there was brightness round about him. Like the appearance of the bow
that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about.
Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon
my face.
24. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Ezekiel 1.3-28
Genesis 28.10-17: Jacob's vision of a ladder extending to heaven confirmed God's grace upon him as he
was about to embark on twenty lonely and burdensome years of exile. It is also the founding legend of
the shrine and city of Bethel, 'House of God,' the royal sanctuary of the northern kingdom of Israel.
Revelation 1.9-11: This is a spiritual manifestation of the resurrected Jesus. Jesus also appeared
transfigured before his disciples in Matthew 17.1-8, p. 653 Ezekiel 1.3-28: This vision of God's chariot
throne has been the inspiration for a school of Jewish mysticism called merkabah (chariot) mysticism. It
emphasizes the unbridgeable distance between God and man. The mystic journeys ever higher, through
heaven after heaven and glory after glory, approaching the divine throne but never reaching even to its
footstool. The faces of the four living creatures have become, in Christian tradition, symbols for the four
O Highest Lord, I wish I could see you,
your form as Lord,
Just as you yourself say you are,
Supreme Divine Being.
O Lord, if you think it is possible
that I might see you-Then, Lord of mystic power,
show me your changeless self.
The Lord:
Open your eyes and see
my hundreds, my thousands of forms,
In all their variety, heavenly splendor,
in all their colors and semblances.
Look upon the Gods of Heaven, the Radiant Gods,
the Terrifying Gods, the Kind Celestial Twins.
See, Arjuna, countless marvels
never seen before.
Here is my body, in one place, now
the whole world-All that moves and does not move-and whatever else you want to see.
Of course, with the ordinary eye
you cannot see me.
I give you divine vision.
Behold my absolute power!
With these words, Vishnu,
the great Lord of mystic power,
Gave Arjuna the vision
of his highest, absolute form-His form with many mouths and eyes,
appearing in many miraculous ways,
With many divine ornaments
and divine, unsheathed weapons.
He wore garlands and robes
and ointments of divine fragrance.
He was a wholly wonderful god,
infinite, facing in every direction.
If the light of a thousand suns
should effulge all at once,
It would resemble the radiance
of that god of overpowering reality.
Then and there, Arjuna saw
the entire world unified,
Yet divided manifold,
embodied in the God of gods.
Bewildered and enraptured,
Arjuna, the Pursuer of Wealth,
Bowed his head to the god,
joined his palms, and said,
Master! Within you I see the gods,
and all classes of beings,
The Creator
on his lotus seat,
and all seers
and divine serpents.
Far and near, I see you
without limit,
Reaching, containing everything, and
with innumerable mouths and eyes.
I see no end to you, no middle,
and no beginning-O universal Lord and form of all!
You, Wearer
of Crown, Mace, and Discus,
You are a deluge of brilliant light
all around.
I see you,
who can hardly be seen,
With the splendor of radiant fires and suns,
You are the one imperishable
paramount necessary core of knowledge,
The world's ultimate foundation;
you never cease to guard the eternal tradition.
You are the everlasting
Divine Being.
There is no telling what is
beginning, middle, or end in you.
Your power is infinite;
your arms reach infinitely far.
Sun and moon are your eyes.
This is how I see you.
Your mouth is a flaming sacrificial fire.
You burn up the world with your radiance.
For you alone fill the quarters of heaven
and the space between heaven and earth.
The world above,
man's world,
and the world in between
Are frightened at the awesome sight of you,
O mighty being!
There I see throngs of gods entering you.
Some are afraid,
they join their palms
and call upon your name.
Throngs of great seers and perfect sages hail you
with magnificent hymns.
The Terrifying Gods, the Gods of Heaven, the Radiant Gods,
also the Celestial Spirits,
the All-Gods, the Celestial Twins,
the Storm Gods, and the Ancestors;
multitudes of heavenly musicians,
good sprites, demons, and perfect sages
All look upon you in wonder.
When the worlds see your form
of many mouths and eyes,
of many arms, legs, feet
many torsos, many terrible tusks,
They tremble,
As do I.
For seeing you
ablaze with all the colors of the rainbow,
Touching the sky,
with gaping mouths and wide, flaming eyes,
My heart in me is shaken.
O God,
I have lost all certainty, all peace.
Your mouths and their terrible tusks
evoke the world in conflagration.
Looking at them
I can no longer orient myself.
There is no refuge.
O Lord of Gods,
dwelling place of the world,
give me Your grace.
25. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 11.3-25
Bhagavad Gita 11.3-25 This is the climax of the Bhagavad Gita, when Krishna allows Arjuna a glimpse of
his transcendent form. This magnificent theophany continues with a vision of the fate of all the
combatants in the Mahabharata War, who rush headlong to destruction into Krishna's multifold gaping
jaws or sharp tusks; cf. Bhagavad Gita 11.26-34, pp. 1044f. God is omnipotent and controls all worldly
phenomena; thus with the theophany comes insight into the future, and Arjuna can have confidence in
victory. But such a theophany is rare, and only given to those who have eyes to see. Once before, in
front of Duryodhana and the assembled lords of the Kauravas, Krishna had displayed his transcendental
form in an effort to make peace; but they utterly ignored it and showered him with insults
(Mahabharata, Udogya Parva 43).
World Scripture
Here we have selected passages, largely from the monotheistic religions, on God's sovereignty over the
affairs of the world. God rules over the affairs of men and women and decides their destinies; humans
are therefore subject to the will of God: see Providence, pp. 1081-93. The teaching that God is
omnipotent often includes the belief that God determines everything that happens in this world, be it
for good or evil; this relates to doctrines of predestination and free will: see Predestination, pp. 494-97.
The Lord will reign for ever and ever.
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Exodus 15.18
Unto God belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is therein, and it is He
who has power over all things.
2. Islam. Qur'an 5.120
The earth is wide, but God is the elder.
3. African Traditional Religions. Akan Proverb (Ghana)
All that are rulers, kings, potentates, lords chiefs, officials-All are God's creation.
Their will is subject to God's;
On God are they all dependent.
4. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Bilaval-ki-Var 6, M.4, p. 851
The Wise One is the most mindful of the plans,
which, indeed, were wrought in the past,
By demons and by men,
and which will be wrought hereafter!
He, the Lord, is the sole decider,
so may it be unto us as He wills!
5. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 29.4
Revere the anger of Heaven,
And presume not to make sport or be idle.
Revere the changing moods of Heaven,
And presume not to drive about at your pleasure.
Great Heaven is intelligent,
And is with you in all your goings.
Great Heaven is clear-seeing,
And is with you in your wanderings and indulgences.
6. Confucianism. Book of Songs, Ode 254
Akan Proverb: Cf. Ashanti Verse, p. 293.
I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
7. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Deuteronomy 32.39
All that is in the heavens and the earth magnifies God;
He is the All-mighty, the All-wise.
To Him belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth;
He gives life, and He makes to die, and He is powerful
over everything.
He is the First and the Last, the Outward and the Inward;
He has knowledge of everything.
It is He that created the heavens and the earth in six days
then seated Himself upon the Throne.
He knows what penetrates into the earth, and what comes forth from it,
what comes down from heaven, and what goes up into it.
He is with you wherever you are; and God sees
the things you do.
To Him belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth;
and unto Him all matters are returned.
He makes the night enter into the day
and makes the day enter into the night.
He knows the thoughts within the breasts.
8. Islam. Qur'an 57.1-6
The tree set up by Imana (God) cannot be blown down by the wind.
9. African Traditional Religions. Banyarawanda Proverb (Tanzania)
With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.
10. Christianity. Bible, Mark 10.27
Book of Songs, Ode 254: This is a classic statement of the teaching that rulers must pay regard to the
Mandate of Heaven, without which their reign becomes untenable. It is one stanza of a longer poem
given on pp. 1089f. Banyarawanda Proverb: Cf. Boran Prayer, p. 560.
If He so will, He can remove you and put in your place a new creation; that is surely no great matter for
11. Islam. Qur'an 14.19-20
The Creator of the heavens and the earth; and when He decrees a thing, He but says to it "Be," and it is.
12. Islam. Qur'an 2.117
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, "My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,"
calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.
13. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 46.9-11
Qur'an 2.117: Compare Genesis 1.3: "And God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light," p. 126.
Isaiah 46.9-11: The word and judgments of God will inevitably come to pass. The specific historical
setting of this verse is the announcement by God through the anonymous prophet deutero-Isaiah
concerning the coming of Cyrus of Persia, the 'bird of prey from the east,' to conquer Babylon. CF.
Habakkak 2.2-3, p. 1043.
World Scripture
Continuing with passages on God's sovereignty over human affairs, this section contains teachings on
God's total knowledge of human thoughts and actions. Nothing is hidden from God. There is no place to
hide from Him. Hence the believer should be sincere in his thoughts, and he can have confidence in the
truthfulness of God's justice. We do not deal here with the question of divine foreknowledge: see
Predestination, pp. 689-93. In Buddhism, Jainism, and many schools of Hinduism, the functions of
omniscience and omnipotence to judge human affairs are not fulfilled through God's agency, but rather
through the omnipresent workings of karma: see Divine Justice, pp. 183-91.
Our Lord! Lo! You know that which we hide and that which we proclaim. Nothing in the earth
or in heaven is hidden from God.
1. Islam. Qur'an 14.38
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and You are acquainted with all my ways.
2. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 139.2-3
Mark well three things and you will not fall into the clutches of sin: know what is above you--an
eye that sees, an ear that hears, and all your actions recorded in the book.
3. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 2.1
To God belong the East and the West;
whithersoever you turn, there is the Face of God;
God is All-embracing, All-knowing.
4. Islam. Qur'an 2.115
Qur'an 14.38: Cf. Qur'an 2.284, p. 189; 26.220, p. 752. On angels as God's watchers, see Qur'an 13.1011, p. 190. Abot 2.1: Cf. Abot 3.20, p. 187. Qur'an 2.115: This has been interpreted by Muslims to mean
that God appears to people of every culture and religion, east and west. God, who is one Unity (tawhid),
embraces every one of his creatures. Cf. Amos 9.2-4, p. 187.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of
soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And
before Him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have
to do.
5. Christianity. Bible, Hebrews 4.12-13
Surely God--He has knowledge of the Hour;
He sends down the rain; He knows what is in the wombs.
No soul knows what it shall earn tomorrow, and
no soul knows in what land it shall die.
Surely God is All-knowing, All-aware.
6. Islam. Qur'an 31.34
The eyes are not prevented [from seeing] by a hedge; God has nothing hid from him.
7. African Traditional Religions. Ovambo Proverb (Angola)
You who dive down as if under water to steal,
Though no earthly king may have seen you,
The King of heaven sees.
8. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)
In the Book of Songs it is said,
In your secret chamber even you are judged;
See you do nothing to blush for,
Though but the ceiling looks down upon you.
Therefore the moral man, even when he is not doing anything, is serious; and, even when he does
not speak, is truthful.
9. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 33
See you not that God knows all that is in the heavens and on earth? There is not a secret
consultation between three unless He is their fourth, nor between five unless He is their sixth, nor
between fewer or more unless He is in their midst, wheresoever they be.
10. Islam. Qur'an 58.7
Hebrews 4.12-13: For a similar passage in the Hebrew Bible, see 1 Samuel 16.7; cf. Jeremiah 17.10, p.
189. Doctrine of the Mean 33: Cf. Great Learning 6.1-4, p. 724. Qur'an 58.7: Cf. Matthew 18.20, p. 271,
where a similar image is used to make a different point.
The great Ruler of all these worlds,
beholds as if from near at hand
the man who thinks he acts by stealth:
the Gods know all this of him.
When one stands or walks or moves in secret,
or goes to his lying down or uprising,
when two sitting together take secret counsel,
King Varuna knows, being there the Third.
This earth belongs to Varuna, the King,
and the heavens, whose ends are far apart.
Both the oceans are the loins of Varuna,
and He is merged within the small water drop.
If one will go away beyond the heavens,
still he cannot escape King Varuna;
his envoys move about here from the heavens,
and, thousand-eyed, they look upon the earth.
King Varuna observes all that which lies
between heaven and earth and beyond them;
the twinklings of men's eyes have been counted by him;
as a dicer the dice, he measures everything.
These fatal snares of thine, O Varuna,
that stand stretched seven by seven-and-threefold,
let all these catch up the man who tells a lie,
but pass by one who speaks the truth.
With a hundred nooses bind him, Varuna,
let him not who lies escape thee, Looker on men!
Let the mean fellow sit stretching his belly
like a cask of which the bands have been cut.
Varuna is that which is the warp,
Varuna is that which is the woof,
Varuna is of our own land, he is of foreign lands.
Varuna is transcendent, he is immanent.
11. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 4.16.1-8
The sun shines and sends its burning rays down upon us,
The moon rises in its glory.
Rain will come and again the sun will shine,
And over it all passes the eyes of God.
Nothing is hidden from Him.
Whether you be in your home, whether you be on the water,
Whether you rest in the shade of a tree in the open,
Here is your Master.
Did you think because you were more powerful than some poor orphan,
You could covet his wealth and deceive him,
Saying to yourself, "I cannot be seen"?
So then remember that you are always in the presence of God.
Not today, not today, not today!
But some day He will give you your just reward
For thinking in your heart
That you have but cheated a slave, an orphan.
12. African Traditional Religion. Yoruba Song (Nigeria)
Atharva Veda 4.16: Varuna is the Vedic god who represents the divine attribute of justice, weighing sins
and also forgiving them. Etymologically, he is related to Zoroastrian Ahura Mazda. Cf. Amos 9.2-4, p.
187. Yoruba Song: On the theme of delayed recompense, see Qur'an 3.176-78, Ecclesiastes 8.10-12, p.
World Scripture
This section brings together passages on God's immanence. God is described in the Qur'an as "nearer
than the jugular vein," knowing all a person's thoughts and desires, and abiding within the human heart.
In the Bible, God's immanence is expressed in the revelation to Elijah, where instead of a grand
manifestation in earthquake or thunder, God's self-revelation is as 'a still small voice.' They may speak of
God coming near or dwelling in the heart only when there is receptivity, humility, and faith. In the
scriptures of the Abrahamic religions, while God is near at hand, He is rarely identified with the soul
itself; that could be seen as tantamount to idolatry.
Other traditions teach more thoroughgoing notions of divine immanence. Sufis interpret the
Qur'anic parable of the Lamp as expressing the presence of God in the human heart as a light,
illuminating the lamp of the body. In Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism the divine immanence is
described ontologically: Ultimate Reality is the Self (Atman). In Buddhism the divine
immanence is described psychologically: Essence of Mind or Suchness (Tathata) is realized by a
mind dwelling in Perfect Wisdom and expressing a mind of enlightenment (bodhi), Dhamma
nature or Buddha nature. But there is no ontological self which could be immanent. These
various doctrines of divine immanence avoid a simple identification of God with the individual
soul. The ordinary individual soul (jiva) is beclouded and deluded by an egoistic sense of self; in
contrast, the divine Self within, or Suchness, can only be realized through enlightenment.
The complete realization of the God within is a potential and a goal; passages which describe it
as a state of existence are often referring to the ideal realized by an attained person. This ideal
will be treated more fully in Chapter 3. Yet as many of these selections point out, even the
ordinary beclouded mind is intrinsically pure and contains the germ of divinity.
We indeed created man; and We know what his soul whispers within him, and We are nearer to
him than the jugular vein.
1. Islam. Qur'an 50.16
Ever is He present with you--think not He is far:
By the Master's teaching recognize Him within yourself.
2. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Majh Ashtpadi, M.3, p. 116
[God] is not far from each one of us, for "In him we live and move and have our being."
3. Christianity. Bible, Acts 17.27-28
The Master said, "Is Goodness indeed so far away? If we really wanted Goodness, we should
find that it was at our very side."
4. Confucianism. Analects 7.29
Brahman shines forth, vast, self-luminous, inconceivable, subtler than the subtle. He is far
beyond what is far, and yet here very near at hand. Verily, He is seen here, dwelling in the cave
of the heart of conscious beings.
5. Hinduism, Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.7
For thus says the high and lofty One
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy,
"I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble,
and to revive the heart of the contrite."
6. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 57.15
"If I [God] am there, all are there, and if I am not there, who is there?" Hillel also used to say,
"To the place where I wish to be, there do my feet bring me. If you come to my house, I will
come to your house; if you do not come to my house, I will not come to your house." As it says,
"In all places where I cause my Name to be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you."
(Exodus 20.24)
7. Judaism. Talmud, Sukkah 53a
Qur'an 50.16: Cf. Qur'an 2.186, p. 826. Majh Ashtpadi, M.3: Cf. Gaund, M.5, p. 212; also Chandogya
Upanishad 6.8.7, p. 208. Acts 17.27-28: Cf. Psalm 145.18, p. 826. Analects 7.29: Cf. Luke 17.21, p. 218;
Bhagavad Gita 7.21-23, Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 1, p. 725; Tao Te Ching 23, p. 685. Mundaka
Upanishad 3.1.7: Cf. Katha Upanishad 1.2.20-22, Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.1-2, p. 212; Isha Upanishad 1516, p. 74. Isaiah 57.15: Cf. Psalm 51.17, p. 902. Sukkah 53a: Compare Hadith, p. 686.
Great Deng is near, and some say far, O Divinity!
The Creator is near, and some say he has not reached us!
Do you not hear, O Divinity?
The black bull of the rain has been released from the moon's byre,
Do you not hear, O Divinity?
8. African Traditional Religions. Dinka Song (Sudan)
Why do you go to the forest in search of God?
He lives in all and is yet ever distinct;
He abides with you, too,
As a fragrance dwells in a flower,
And reflection in a mirror;
So does God dwell inside everything;
Seek Him, therefore, in your heart.
9. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Dhanasri, M.9, p. 684
The supreme Self is without a beginning, undifferentiated, deathless. Though it dwells in the
body, Arjuna, it neither acts nor is touched by action. As radiation pervades the cosmos but
remains unstained, the Self can never be tainted though it dwells in every creature.
10. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 13.32
Within our Essence of Mind the Trikaya (Three Bodies) of Buddha are to be found, and they are
common to everybody. Because the mind labors under delusions, he knows not his own inner
nature; and the result is that he ignores the Trikaya within himself, erroneously believing that
they are to be sought from without. Within yourself you will find the Trikaya which, being the
manifestation of the Essence of Mind, are not to be sought from without.
11. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 6
As the holy one I recognized thee, O Wise Lord,
When he came to me as Good Mind;
The Silent Thought taught me the greatest good
so that I might proclaim it.
12. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 45.15
Dinka Song: The intention of the song in suggesting that 'some say far' is to urge Divinity to come near
and help. Dhanasri, M.9: Cf. Suhi, M.5, p. 399. Sutra of Hui Neng 6: 'Essence of Mind' as Hui Neng uses
the term denotes the original mind which is intrinsically the same as Buddha nature; cf. other passages
from this sutra on pp. 217-19. But 'Essence of Mind' is tathata, which can also be translated Essence of
all things. These indeed are not different, as the essence of things can be grasped only by mind; cf.
Lankavatara Sutra 61-64, p. 155. For more on the Mahayana doctrine of the Trikaya, the Buddha's three
bodies: cf. p. 650; Lotus Sutra 16, p. 121; Meditation on Buddha Amitayus 17, p. 646; Lion's Roar of
Queen Srimala 5, p. 652.
God said to Elijah... "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed
by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but
the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;
and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
13. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, 1 Kings 19.11-12
God is the Light of the heavens and the earth.
The parable of His Light
is as if there were a Niche,
and within it a Lamp;
the Lamp enclosed in Glass:
The glass as it were a brilliant star:
Lit from a blessed Tree,
An Olive neither of the East nor of the West,
Whose oil is well-nigh luminous,
though fire scarce touched it.
Light upon Light!
God guides whom He will to His Light:
God sets forth parables for men, and God knows all things.
14. Islam. Qur'an 24.35
In the golden city of the heart dwells
The Lord of Love, without parts, without stain.
Know him as the radiant light of lights.
There shines not the sun, neither moon nor star,
Nor flash of lightning, nor fire lit on earth.
The Lord is the light reflected by all.
He shining, everything shines after him.
15. Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.10-11
Daibai asked Baso, "What is Buddha?" Baso answered, "This very mind is the Buddha."
16. Buddhism. Mumonkan 30
1 Kings 19.11-12: God is manifest in His Word, communicated to the heart. He is not in the storm or the
earthquake or other manifestations of power in nature. This is a radical critique of nature-religion as it
was practiced by the Canaanites. Qur'an 24.35: Islamic mystics since Ghazali have interpreted these
verses as expressing God's inner illumination of the human soul. The Niche, Glass, Lamp, Tree, and Oil
correspond to the five faculties of the soul, namely: (1) the sensory faculty; (2) the imagination; (3) the
discriminative intellect; (4) the faculty of ratiocination capable of abstract knowledge, and (5) the
transcendent prophetic spirit that may apprehend divine truth. The human soul is thus a graded
succession of lights, 'Light upon light,' whose source is God. Cf. Katha Upanishad 2.3.7-8, p. 93.
Mumonkan 30: Compare "That art thou," Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7, p. 208. But Mumonkan 33, p.
899, asserts the seeming opposite !
That mind which gives life
To all the people
in the world
Such is the very mind
which nourishes me!
17. Shinto. Moritake Arakida, One Hundred Poems about the World
God is the subject of heart. He has feelings of boundless sorrow and joy.
18. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 2-12-61
I am the nucleus of every creature, Arjuna; for without Me nothing can exist, neither animate nor
inanimate.... Wherever you find strength, or beauty, or spiritual power, you may be sure that
these have sprung from a spark of My essence.
19. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 10.39, 41
At whose behest does the mind think? Who bids the body live? Who makes the tongue speak?
Who is that effulgent Being that directs the eye to form and color and the ear to sound?
The Self (Atman) is ear of the ear, mind of the mind, speech of speech. He is also breath of the
breath, and eye of the eye. Having given up the false identification of the Self with the senses
and the mind, and knowing the Self to be Brahman, the wise, on departing this life, become
20. Hinduism. Kena Upanishad 1.1-2
Lord, the Tathagatagarbha is not born, does not die, does not pass away to become reborn. The
Tathagatagarbha excludes the realm with the characteristic of the constructed. The
Tathagatagarbha is permanent, steadfast, eternal. Therefore the Tathagatagarbha is the support,
the holder, the base of constructed [Buddha natures] that are nondiscrete, not dissociated, and
knowing as liberated from the stores of defilement; and furthermore is the support, the holder,
the base of external constructed natures that are discrete, dissociated, and knowing as not
Lord, if there were no Tathagatagarbha, there would be neither aversion towards suffering nor
longing, eagerness, and aspiration towards Nirvana. What is the reason? Whatever be these six
perceptions [i.e., the five senses plus the mind], and whatever be this other perception [perhaps
intellectual cognition?], these seven natures are unfixed, momentary, and lack experience of
suffering; hence these natures are unfit for aversion towards suffering or for longing, eagerness,
and aspiration towards Nirvana. Lord, the Tathagatagarbha has ultimate existence without
beginning or end, has an unborn and undying nature, and experiences suffering; hence it is
worthy of the Tathagatagarbha to have aversion towards suffering as well as longing, eagerness,
and aspiration towards Nirvana. Lord, the Tathagatagarbha is neither self nor sentient being, nor
soul, nor personality.... Lord, this Tathagatagarbha is the embryo of the illustrious Dharmadhatu,
the embryo of the Dharmakaya, the embryo of the supramundane Doctrine, the embryo of the
intrinsically pure Doctrine.
21. Buddhism. Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 13
One Hundred Poems about the World: See note on p. 497. Sun Myung Moon, 2-12-61: 'Heart' is the
irrepressible impulse to love others, which is the inner motivation for all God's actions. In humans, heart
lies at the root of the mind, motivating intellect, emotion, and will. In prayer one can touch the heart of
God and feel its affective aspect: joy when His beloved children respond to Him and deep sorrow for
those who are lost in sin. Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73, p. 146; 6-20-82, p. 146. Bhagavad Gita 10.3941: Cf. Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.7, p. 132. Kena Upanishad 1.1-2: Cf. Atharva Veda 10.8.43-44, p. 582;
Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7, p. 208; Mandukya Upanishad, p. 834; Katha Upanishad 3.13, p. 840; Black
Elk, p. 536; Luke 11.34-36, p. 535. Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 13: In Mahayana scriptures the
Tathagatagarbha, or Embryo of the Tathagata, is the intrinsically pure consciousness pervading all
sentient beings which is capable of maturing into Buddhahood.
World Scripture
Ultimate Reality is eternal and unchanging. The monotheistic religious claim is that God is absolute,
eternal, and unchanging; a similar teaching applies to other religious conceptions of the Absolute:
Nirvana, Dhamma, the Dharmakaya, the Tao, and in the I Ching the ground of Change itself. The
complementary assertion, which is central to Buddhism and other Eastern religions but also found in
analogous expressions in the monotheistic faiths, is that all beings, things, and phenomena in the world
are transient, impermanent, conditioned, and hence less than truly Real. These two doctrines are
presented together as the positive and negative poles of a single truth.
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!
1. Christianity. Bible, Revelation 4.8
"Holy, holy, holy"--in heaven, on earth, and to all eternity.
2. Judaism. Targum Jonathan, Isaiah 6.3
The great, unborn Self is undecaying, immortal, undying, fearless, infinite.
3. Hinduism. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.25
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
4. Christianity. Bible, Revelation 22.13
Then did I recognize Thee in mind,
to be the first and the last, O Lord,
5. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 31.8
Revelation 4.8 and Targum Jonathan: These two passages illustrate the operation of midrashic exegesis,
where each detail in the word of God is plumbed for its meaning. The question, "Why is the word 'holy'
repeated three times in Isaiah 6.3 (p. 99)?" is answered by a three-fold description of God's range over
time and space. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.25: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 13.32, p. 115.
All that is on the earth will perish:
But will abide for ever the face of thy Lord-full of Majesty, Bounty, and Honor.
6. Islam. Qur'an 55.26-27
In primal time, in all time, was the Creator;
Nothing is real but the Eternal.
Nothing shall last but the Eternal.
7. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 1, M.1, p. 1
The spirit of the valley never dies.
It is called the subtle and profound female.
The gate of the subtle and profound female
Is the root of heaven and earth.
It is continuous, and seems to be always existing.
Use it and you will never wear it out.
8. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 6
Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers
has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to
Moses, "I Am Who I Am." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I Am' has sent me to
9. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Exodus 3.13-15
The divine Mind maintains all identities, from a blade of grass to a star, as distinct and eternal.
Nothing is real and eternal--nothing is Spirit--but God and His idea.
10. Christian Science. Science and Health
Nothing can ever destroy the Buddha Nature. The nature of self is nothing but the undisclosed
storehouse of the Tathagata. Such a storehouse can never be broken, put to fire, or plundered.
Though it is not possible to destroy or see it, one can know it when one attains the unsurpassed
11. Buddhism. Mahaparinirvana Sutra 220
There is no changing the words of God; that is the mighty triumph.
12. Islam. Qur'an 10.64
The Truth is that which is received from Heaven. By nature it is the way it is and cannot be
13. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 31
Tao Te Ching 6: Cf. Tao Te Ching 4, p. 525. This describes the eternal feminine spirit; see p. 147. Exodus
3.13-15: This passage, from Moses' encounter with God at the burning bush, gives the traditional
etymology of the name of God, the Tetragrammaton YHWH, as The Eternal, 'I Am.' This verse is also the
foundation of Christian and Jewish theological discussion of God's unchangeability and eternity. For
another traditional Jewish interpretation of this passage, see Torah Yesharah, p. 506. Mahaparinivana
Sutra 8.12: Cf. the concept of Tathatagagarbha in Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 13, p. 117. Chuang Tzu
31: Cf. Chuang Tzu 6, p. 152.
Change has neither thought nor action, because it is in the state of absolute quiet and inactivity, and
when acted on, it immediately penetrates all things. If it were not the most spirit-like thing in the world,
how can it take part in this universal transformation?
14. Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.10.4
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.
15. Christianity. Bible, Hebrews 13.8
The Dharmadhatu (Absolute Truth) abides forever, whether the Tathagata appears in the world
or not.
16. Buddhism. Lankavatara Sutra 61
Subhuti, if anyone should say that the Tathagata comes or goes or sits or reclines, he fails to
understand my teaching. Why? Because "Thus Gone" (Tathagata) has neither whence nor
whither, and therefore He is called "Tathagata."
17. Buddhism. Diamond Sutra 29
Listen each of you to the secret, mysterious, and supernatural power of the Thus Come One. All
the worlds of gods, men, and demons declare, "Now has Sakyamuni Buddha, coming forth from
the palace of the Sakya clan, and seated at the place of enlightenment, not far from the city of
Gaya, attained to Perfect Enlightenment." But, good sons, since in fact I became Buddha, there
have passed infinite, boundless, hundreds, thousands, myriads, millions, trillions of eons.... From
that time forward I have constantly been preaching and teaching in this universe, and also
leading and benefiting the living in other places in hundreds, thousands, myriads, millions,
trillions of numberless domains.
18. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 16
I Ching, Great Commentary 1.10.4: Cf. Tao Te Ching 14, p. 89; 25, p. 95; Chuang Tzu 6, p. 584.
Lankavatara Sutra 61: Part of a longer passage given on p. 155. Diamond Sutra 29: 'Tathagata' is a title
given to the Buddha. It means "Comes thus far," i.e., the one who has arrived at the goal of
enlightenment. Lotus Sutra 16: See also the parallel passage in verse, pp. 647f, 663. The language here
has links to the concept of the Day of Brahman--see Bhagavad Gita 8.17-20, p. 122--and with the
thought that there is an historic manifestation of the Eternal Buddha in every eon, much as with the
Hindu doctrine of avatars--see Bhagavad Gita 4.7-8, p. 662. In the doctrine of the Trikaya (Three Bodies)
of Mahayana Buddhism, the Eternal Buddha of the Lotus Sutra is the Sambhogakaya (Glorified Body),
while the historical Buddha is the Nirmanakaya (Accommodated Body). The Ultimate Buddha, the
Dharmakaya, is Reality itself; cf. Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 5, p. 652; Garland Sutra 37, p. 96.
The One who, himself without color, by the manifold application of his power
Distributes many colors in his hidden purpose,
And into whom, its end and its beginning, the whole world dissolves-He is God!
19. Hinduism. Svestasvatara Upanishad 4.1
Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of thy hands;
They will perish,
but thou dost endure.
They will all wear out like a garment,
thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away.
But thou art the same,
and thy years have no end.
20. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 102.25-27
Who knows the Eternal's day
and the Eternal's night,
Each lasting a thousand ages, truly
knows day and night.
At daybreak all things are disclosed;
they arise from the unmanifest.
At dusk they dissolve into
the very same unmanifest.
Again and again, the whole multitude
of creatures is born, and when night falls,
Is dissolved, without their will,
and at daybreak, is born again.
Beyond that unmanifest is
another, everlasting unmanifest
Which has no end, although
every creature perish.
This is called the imperishable
unmanifest and the highest goal.
Who reaches it does not return.
It is my supreme abode.
21. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 8.17-21
With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
22. Christianity. Bible, 2 Peter 3.8
Psalm 102.25-27: Cf. Hebrews 1.10-12. Bhagavad Gita 8.17-21: This is a description of the Day of
Brahman, the ever-repeating cycle of cosmic time, measured in myriads of years, between the creation
of one universe and its dissolution. In some cosmologies the Day of Brahman is divided into the four
yugas, of which the Kali Yuga is the final period before the next cosmic dissolution. Cf. Bhagavad Gita
9.4-10, p. 134; Katha Upanishad 1.3.15, p. 581; Laws of Manu 1.81-86, p. 433. 2 Peter 3.8: This is a
quotation from Psalm 90.4.
The image of The Marrying Maiden.
Thus the superior man
understands the transitory
In the light of the eternity of the end.
23. Confucianism. I Ching 54: The Marrying Maiden
Even ornamented royal chariots wear out. So too the body reaches old age. But the Dhamma of
the Good grows not old. Thus do the Good reveal it among the Good.
24. Buddhism. Dhammapada 151
The impermanent [objects of the senses] have no reality; reality lies in the eternal. Those who
have seen the boundary between these two have attained the end of all knowledge. Realize that
which pervades the universe and is indestructible; no power can affect this unchanging,
imperishable reality.
25. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 2.16-17
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it...
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
26. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 40.6-8
By detachment from appearances, abide in Real Truth. So I tell you, Thus shall you think of all
this fleeting world,
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, a dream.
27. Buddhism. Diamond Sutra 32
The wise man looks upon life as a mere dew drop which quivers upon the tip of a blade of kusa
grass, to be whisked off or blown away by the breeze at any moment. The life of an unwise,
imprudent, and ignorant person is likewise as transient as said dew drop.
28. Jainism. Acarangasutra 5.5
I Ching 54: Human relationships are likely to be successful only if they are grounded in the perspective of
eternity. Bhagavad Gita 2.16-17: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 18.61-62, p. 553. Isaiah 40.6-8: Cf. Ecclesiastes 3.1-8,
p. 382. Diamond Sutra 32: This is the fundamental stance of Buddhism towards worldly phenomena. It
lies at the heart of Buddhism's ethic of nonattachment and it is comforting counsel to those who are
suffering from pain, loss, or bereavement. See the Parable of the Mustard Seed, pp. 381f.
Who comes, finally comes not. Who goes, finally goes not. Why? Who comes is not known to come.
Who goes is not known to go. Who appears is finally not to be seen.
29. Buddhism. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 5
In the world, inclusive of its gods, substance is seen in what is insubstantial. They are tied to
their psychophysical beings and so they think that there is some substance, some reality in them.
But whatever be the phenomenon through which they think of seeking their self-identity, it turns
out to be transitory. It becomes false, for what lasts for a moment is deceptive.
The state that is not deceptive is Nibbana: that is what the men of worth know as being real. With
this insight into reality their hunger ends: cessation, total calm.
30. Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 756-58
Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 5: This statement is from an exchange between Manjusri and Vimalakirti
when the Bodhisattva visits Vimalalakirti on his sick bed. Like any phenomenal existence, they conclude
that Vimalakirti's illness is ultimately unreal. This is a general statement of the concept of sunya, that all
things are empty of any nature that is independent, discrete, and permanent. Also, compare John 14-15,
where the going of Jesus is seen as a coming, but both the going and coming are resolved in a presence.
Sutta Nipata 756-58: Cf. Udana 80, p. 75.
World Scripture
This section gathers passages on God as the Creator. Included are various accounts of the creation of the
world, some beginning with a word and some from a desire within the primordial Absolute. Some teach
creation out of nothing (ex nihilo), affirming the distinction between creator and creation. Others teach
that the world originated and exists as an emanation of the Absolute which nevertheless remains
distinct and transcendent--a view termed panentheism. There are no Buddhist or Jain texts in this
section because these religions deny a Creator God.1 Additional Hindu, Native American, Zoroastrian,
and Shinto texts on creation by the agency of one or several deities can be found scattered throughout
this anthology.2
We begin with accounts of how the universe was created. Then shorter passages explain the
method of creation, and the section concludes with passages describing God's continuing creative
activity which sustains the cosmos.
This do I ask, O Lord, reveal unto me the truth!
Who is the first begetter, father of the Cosmic Law?
Who assigned orbit to the sun and the stars?
Who causes the moon to wax and again to wane?
Who other than Thee? This and else I wish to know!
Who is the upholder of the earth and of the sky?
Who prevents them from falling down?
Who maintains the waters and also the plants?
Who yoked speed to winds and clouds?
Who is the creator of the creatures?
Who is the architect of light and darkness?
Who created sleep and wakefulness?
By whom exists dawn, mid-day and night,
Which monitor the duties of men?
1. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 44.3-5
1. The Buddhist dialogue Agganna-sutta (Digha Nikaya iii.84-92), and its Mahayana version Ekottaraagama, p. 430, give an account of the creation of human beings. But there is no creator god, and the
theme of the dialogue is the degeneration of humankind. It has biblical parallels with the fall of Adam
and Eve. Cf. Surangama Sutra, p. 387.
2. Rig Veda 10.90.6-16, pp. 868f., 275; Aitareya Upanishad 1-3, p. 306f.; Brihadaranyaka
Upanishad 1.4.3, p. 252; Vishnu Purana 1, p. 82; Okanagan Creation, p. 298; Mohawk Creation,
pp. 438f.; Videvdad 1.3-11, p. 438; Kojiki 4-6, p. 431; Maori Tradition, p. 311a; and others.
God it is Who created the heavens and the earth,
and that which is between them, in six days.
Then He mounted the throne.
You have not, beside Him, a protecting friend or mediator.
Will you not then remember?
He directs the ordinance from the heaven to the earth;
then it ascends to Him in a Day, whose measure is
a thousand years of your reckoning.
Such is the Knower of the invisible and the visible,
the Mighty, the Merciful,
Who made all things good which He created.
And He began the creation of man from clay;
then He made his seed from a draught of despised fluid;
then He fashioned him and breathed into him of His spirit;
and appointed for you hearing and sight and hearts.
Small thanks you give!
2. Islam. Qur'an 32.4-9
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void,
and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of
the waters.
And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good;
and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he
called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
And God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters
from the waters." And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the
firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. And God called the
firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the
dry land appear." And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered
together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, "let the earth put forth
vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each
according to its kind, upon the earth." And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants
yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each
according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was
morning, a third day. And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to
separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years,
and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was
so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to
rule the night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give
light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the
darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth
And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the
earth across the firmament of the heavens." So God created the great sea monsters and every
living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every
winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying,
"Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." And
there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds, cattle and
creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so. And God made
the beasts of the earth according to their kinds, and the cattle according to their kinds, and
everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion
over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth,
and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them,
and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have
dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that
moves upon the earth." And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed
which is upon the face of all earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for
food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps
on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And
it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there
was evening and there was morning, a sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished,
and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done. So
God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which
he had done in creation.
3. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Genesis 1.1-2.3
Yasna 44.3-5. In this text from the Yasna there is only one true Creator, the Lord Ahura Mazda. Other
Zoroastrian texts give dualistic accounts of creation, attributing diseases and other natural evils to the
creations of the Evil One; thus Yasna 30.3-5, p. 388; Vendidad 1.3-11, p. 438. 'Who is?' cf. Rig Veda
10.129, p. 130. Qur'an 32.4-9: The Qur'an, like the Bible, affirms that God made all things good. These
verses describe God as a craftsman who molds and shapes the things of creation, finishing in six days
and then ascending the throne to rest. He then directs the affairs of earth from heaven, and predicts the
coming Day of Judgment, when all will be dissolved and return to Him. The Qur'an's description of God's
creation should elicit thanksgiving, but most people take the existence of the world and of their very
bodies and souls as a matter of course.
We created man of an extraction of clay,
then We set him, a drop, in a receptacle secure,
then We created of the drop a clot
then We created of the clot a tissue
then We created of the tissue bones
then We garmented the bones in flesh;
thereafter We produced him as another creature.
So blessed be God, the fairest of creators!
4. Islam. Qur'an 23.14
Genesis 1: This is the preeminent creation account in the Western tradition and a source for the
accounts in the Qur'an. God creates by his word: 'Let there be...'; compare Qur'an 2.117, p. 108. The six
'days' or stages of creation have been compared to the epochs of geologic time, since 'with the Lord a
thousand years is as a day,' cf. 2 Peter 3.8, p. 122; Qur'an 32.6, p. 126. Thus we have the big bang (first
day), the ordering of the cosmos (second day), the solidification of the earth (third day), the clearing of
its atmosphere so that the stars can be seen (fourth day), the beginnings of life in the oceans (fifth day),
the emergence of land animals, and finally, man (sixth day). Yet even though the general account of the
stages of creation may be shown to correspond with the account of creation put forward by modern
science, the Bible should not be taken as a source of scientific knowledge. It was revealed to people who
held to an ancient cosmology in which the earth was at the center and a solid dome, the firmament,
formed the sky above and held back its waters. Compare the account of creation from a cosmic egg in
Laws of Manu 1.12-13, p. 131.
The All-merciful has taught the Qur'an.
He created man
and He taught him the Explanation.
The sun and the moon to a reckoning,
and the stars and the trees bow themselves;
and heaven--He raised it up, and set The Balance.
(Transgress not in the Balance,
and weigh with justice, and skimp not in the Balance.)
And the earth--He set it down for all beings,
therein fruits, and palm-trees with sheaths,
and grain in the blade, and fragrant herbs
O which of your Lord's bounties will you and you deny?
He created man of a clay like a potter's,
and He created the jinn (spirits) of a smokeless fire.
O which of your Lord's bounties will you and you deny?
Lord of the Two Easts, Lord of the Two Wests
O which of your Lord's bounties will you and you deny?
He set forth the two seas that meet together,
between them a barrier they do not overpass.
O which of your Lord's bounties will you and you deny?
From them come forth the pearl and the coral.
O which of your Lord's bounties will you and you deny?
His too are the ships that run, raised up in the sea like landmarks.
O which of your Lord's bounties will you and you deny?...
Whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth implore Him; every day He is
upon some labor.
O which of your Lord's bounties will you and you deny?
5. Islam. Qur'an 55.5-30
Great Spirit!
Piler-up of the rocks into towering mountains:
When you stamp on the stone
The dust rises and fills the land,
Hardness of the precipice;
Waters of the pool that turn
Into misty rain when stirred.
Vessels overflowing with oil!
Father of Runji,
Who sews the heavens like cloth:
May you knit together that which is below.
Caller-forth of the branching trees:
You bring forth the shoots
That they stand erect.
You have filled the land with mankind,
The dust rises on high, O Lord!
Wonderful One, you live
In the midst of the sheltering rocks,
You give rain to mankind:
We pray to you; hear us, Lord!
Show mercy when we beseech thee, Lord.
You are on high with the spirits of the great.
You raise the grass-covered hills
Above the earth, and create the rivers.
Gracious One.
6. African Traditional Religions. Shona Prayer (Zimbabwe)
Qur'an 55.5-30: Vv. 5-25, 29-30. This hymn depicts God's provision for man, connecting His creating the
physical world and its laws with His establishing morality and religion: giving the Qur'an and setting 'the
Balance.' Each creative act is an act of God's bounty, which should elicit gratitude and submission to the
Lord of the Universe--see Qur'an 6.95-99, 30.20-25, pp. 76f.; 16.10-18, p. 141. The 'Two Easts' and 'Two
Wests' refer to the northernmost and southernmost points of the sunrise and the sunset at the winter
and summer solstices. The surah goes on to give a lengthy description of the joys of paradise. Shona
Prayer: Cf. Ashanti Verse, p. 293.
He was. Taaroa was his name.
He stood in the void: no earth, no sky, no men.
Taaroa calls the four corners of the universe; nothing replies.
Alone existing, he changes himself into the universe.
Taaroa is the light, he is the seed, he is the base, he is the
The universe is only the shell of Taaroa.
It is he who puts it in motion and brings forth its harmony.
7. South Pacific Traditional Religions. Tahitian Tradition
At first was neither Being nor Nonbeing.
There was not air nor yet sky beyond.
What was its wrapping? Where? In whose protection?
Was Water there, unfathomable and deep?
There was no death then, nor yet deathlessness;
of night or day there was not any sign.
The One breathed without breath, by its own impulse.
Other than that was nothing else at all.
Darkness was there, all wrapped around by darkness,
and all was Water indiscriminate. Then
that which was hidden by the void, that One, emerging,
stirring, through the power of ardor (tapas), came to be.
In the beginning Love arose,
which was the primal germ cell of the mind.
The Seers, searching in their hearts with wisdom,
discovered the connection of Being in Nonbeing.
A crosswise line cut Being from Nonbeing.
What was described above it, what below?
Bearers of seed there were and mighty forces,
thrust from below and forward move above.
Who really knows? Who can presume to tell it?
Whence was it born? Whence issued this creation?
Even the gods came after its emergence.
Then who can tell from whence it came to be?
That out of which creation has arisen,
whether it held it firm or it did not,
He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
He surely knows--or maybe He does not!
8. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.129
Rig Veda 10.129: In this account of the formation of cosmos out of chaos (represented by the Waters),
'that One,' tad ekam, is void of reality prior to the creation. The appearance of mind precedes creation;
its motive is 'Love,' the desire of the One to find fulfillment with a partner; cf. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
1.4.17, p. 252. The first act of creation, dividing being from non-being, resembles the first creative act in
the Genesis account, above.
This universe existed in the shape of darkness, unperceived, destitute of distinctive marks, unattainable
by reasoning, unknowable, wholly immersed, as it were, in deep sleep.
Then the Divine Self-existent, himself indiscernible but making all this, the great elements and
the rest, discernible, appeared with irresistible power, dispelling the darkness.
He who can be perceived by the internal organ alone, who is subtle, indiscernible, and eternal,
who contains all created beings and is inconceivable, shone forth of his own will.
He, desiring to produce beings of many kinds from his own body, first with a thought created the
waters, and placed his seed in them.
That seed became a golden egg, in brilliancy equal to the sun; in that egg he himself was born as
Brahma, the progenitor of the whole world....
The Divine One resided in that egg during a whole year, then he himself by his thought divided it
into two halves;
And out of those two halves he formed heaven and earth, between them the middle sphere, the
eight points of the horizon, and the eternal abode of the waters.
From himself he also drew forth the mind, which is both real and unreal, likewise from the mind
ego, which possesses the function of self-consciousness and is lordly.
Moreover, the great one, the soul, and all products affected by the three qualities, and, in their
order, the five organs which perceive the objects of sensation.
But, joining minute particles even of those six, which possess measureless power, with particles
of himself, he created all beings.
9. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 1.5-16
For millions upon millions, countless years was spread darkness,
When existed neither earth nor heaven, but only the limitless Divine Ordinance.
Then existed neither day or night, nor sun or moon;
As the Creator was absorbed in an unbroken trance.
Existed then neither forms of creation, nor of speech; neither wind nor water.
Neither was creation or disappearance or transmigration.
Then were not continents, neither regions, the seven seas, nor rivers with water flowing.
Existed then neither heaven or the mortal world or the nether world;
Neither hell or heaven or time that destroys.
Hell and heaven, birth and death were then not--none arrived or departed.
Then were not Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva:
None other than the Sole Lord was visible.
Neither existed then female or male, or caste and birth-None suffering and joy received.
Unknowable Himself, was He the source of all utterance; Himself the unknowable unmanifested.
As it pleased Him, the world He created;
Without a supporting power the expanse He sustained.
Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva He created and to maya-attachment gave increase.
(To a rare one was the Master's Word imparted.)
Himself He made His Ordinance operative and watched over it:
Creating continents, spheres and nether worlds, the hidden He made manifest.
Creating the universe Himself, He has remained unattached.
The compassionate Lord too has made the holy center [the human being].
Combining air, water, and fire, He created the citadel of the body.
The Creator fashioned the Nine Abodes [of sensation];
In the Tenth [the superconscious mind] is lodged the Lord, unknowable, limitless.
The illimitable Lord in His unattributed state of void assumed might;
He, the infinite One, remaining detached:
Displaying his power, He himself from the void created inanimate things.
From the unattributed void were created air and water.
Raising creation, He dwells as monarch in the citadel of the body.
Lord! In the fire and water [of the body] exists Thy light;
In Thy [original] state of void was lodged [unmanifest] the power of creation.
10. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Maru Sohale, M.1, pp. 1035-37
The 'bearers of seed' and 'mighty forces' are the male and female principles--see Prasna Upanishad 1.45, p. 176; Rig Veda 1.185, p. 177, Shiva Purana, p. 179. Yet ultimately the miracle of creation remains a
mystery: 'who really knows?'--cf. Rig Veda 3.54.5, p. 72. Even the Vedic gods are ignorant of their origin,
since they emerged after Being differentiated itself. Laws of Manu 1.5-16: This passage describes
creation from a cosmic egg. Creation of heaven and earth out of the two halves of the egg echoes the
creation myths of Mesopotamia, in which the creator deity slays the dragon of chaos and splits it in two:
the top half of the carcass forming heaven and the bottom half forming the earth; compare Maori
Tradition, p. 311a. The god Brahma, creator of heaven and earth, is only a manifestation of Ultimate
Reality, the 'Divine Self-Existent,' as with Rig Veda 10.129, above. 'Those six' are understood by
traditional commentators to mean the five sense organs and the mind. The idea of creation from an egg
has resonances with creation from a woman's body in the Okanagan Creation, p. 298.
As the web issues out of the spider
And is withdrawn, as plants sprout from the earth,
As hair grows from the body, even so,
The sages say, this universe springs from
The deathless Self, the source of life.
The deathless Self meditated upon
Himself and projected the universe
As evolutionary energy.
From this energy developed life, mind,
The elements, and the world of karma,
Which is enchained by cause and effect.
The deathless Self sees all, knows all. From him
Springs Brahma, who embodies the process
Of evolution into name and form
By which the One appears to be many.
11. Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.7-9
Maru Sohale, M.1: For Sikhism, God is first formless, without attributes, and thence manifesting
attributes as he creates, preserves, and dissolves the universe through his Maya (his 'might'). As the
unattributed Supreme Being, God is beyond time and space. In His manifestation god creates and
appears to Mankind through the Word (Nam).
The Great Primal Beginning (t'ai chi) generates... the two primary forces [yang and yin]. The two primary
forces generate the four images. The four images generate the eight trigrams. The eight trigrams
determine good fortune and misfortune. Good fortune and misfortune create the great field of action.
12. Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.11.5-6
Tao gave them birth;
The power (te) of Tao reared them,
Shaped them according to their kinds,
Perfected them, giving to each its strength.
Therefore of the ten thousand things there is not one that does not worship
Tao and do homage to its power. Yet no mandate ever went forth that
accorded to Tao the right to be worshipped, nor to its power the right to
receive homage. It was always and of itself so.
13. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 51
Vast indeed is the sublime Creative Principle, the Source of all, co-extensive with the heavens. It
causes the clouds to come forth, the rain to bestow its bounty and all objects to flow into their
respective forms. Its dazzling brilliance permeates all things from first to last; its activities,
symbolized by the component lines [of the hexagram], reach full completion, each at the proper
time. [The superior man], mounting them when the time is ripe, is carried heavenwards as though
six dragons were his steeds! The Creative Principle functions through Change; accordingly,
when we rectify our way of life by conjoining it with the universal harmony, our firm persistence
is richly rewarded.
14. Confucianism. I Ching 1: The Creative
Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.7-9: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 10.39-41, p. 117; Rig Veda 10.190.1-3, p. 150; Aitareya
Upanishad 1-3, pp. 306f.; Rig Veda 10.90.6-10, pp. 868f. I Ching, Great Commentary: The creative
interaction between the polarities of yin and yang is fundamental to Oriental philosophy; see pp. 17679. The 'great field of action' includes both the phenomena of the world and the laws discovered by the
sages in order to obtain good fortune and to avoid danger. Tao Te Ching 51: The passage continues that
humans should act likewise in exercising dominion, whether over nature or over people; see p. 294.
'Power'(te) means the force of virtue which arises from unity with cosmic law. I Ching 1: This
commentary describes the creative principle in terms of its hexagram Ch'ien. The 'six dragons' are the six
strong lines of the hexagram. Cf. Chuang Tzu 12, p. 589. In Taoism the creative power of spirit is known
as Ch'i (Qi); see Chuang Tzu 15, p. 841.
My shape is unmanifest, but I
pervade the world.
All beings have their being in me,
but I do not rest in them.
See my sovereign technique:
creatures both in me and not in me.
Supporting beings, my person brings
beings to life, without living in them.
I am omnipresent as the storm wind
which resides in space.
All beings exist in me.
Remember that.
All creatures enter into my nature
at the end of an eon.
In another beginning
I send them forth again.
Establishing my own nature,
time after time I send them forth,
This host of beings, without
their will, by dint of that nature.
This activity does not
imprison me, O Fighter for Wealth!
I appear as an onlooker, detached
in the midst of this work.
Nature gives birth to all moving
and unmoving things. I supervise.
That is how the world keeps turning,
Son of Kunti!
15. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 9.4-10
If God removes His hand the world will end.
16. African Traditional Religions. Proverb
Nothing whatsoever exists without me or beyond me. The atoms of the universe may be counted,
but not so my manifestations; for eternally I create innumerable worlds.
17. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.10
Bhagavad Gita 9.4-10: Cf. Rig Veda 6.47-4, p. 77. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.10: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 7.4-7, pp.
97f.; 10.39-41, p. 117; Svetasvatara Upanishad 4.2-4, p. 98; Vishnu Purana 1, p. 82.
World Scripture
The following two sections bring together passages describing some personal attributes of Ultimate
Reality. This section has passages from scripture discussing God's attributes of goodness and love. Most
of them describe God as good, loving, beautiful, truthful, compassionate, and faithful in personal terms.
Theologians have argued that the personality of God is the highest aspect of God's nature, just as the
faculties of intellect, emotion, and will make human beings the highest achievement of the created
order. The opening passages depict goodness, compassion, and love as the primary attributes of
Ultimate Reality. We follow with passages which describe God's gracious provision to human beings,
where God's goodness is especially manifest in His help for the poor and downtrodden.
In addition, there are passages which describe the absolute goodness of Ultimate Reality in
impersonal terms. Ultimate Reality is above the fetters of human cravings and above relative
human judgments of good and evil. This goodness is universal and all-embracing. Common
metaphors liken this goodness to the beneficial influences of the rain and the sun to promote
growth and abundance to all nature.
The passages in this section focus on the nature of Ultimate Reality itself as loving, merciful, and
good. Related themes on various manifestations of divine love and mercy may be found
throughout the anthology: see Grace, pp. 505-12, Help and Deliverance, pp. 557-68; and themes
on human love as a response to divine love in True Love, pp. 236-41, Husband and Wife, pp.
251-64, Devotion and Praise, p. 760-66, and Loving Kindness, pp. 967-73.
God is love.
1. Christianity. Bible, 1 John 4.8
My mercy embraces all things.
2. Islam. Qur'an 7.156
The Great Compassionate Heart is the essence of Buddhahood.
3. Buddhism. Gandavyuha Sutra
To love is to know Me,
My innermost nature,
The truth that I am.
4. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 18.55
The hawk says, "All God did is good."
5. African Traditional Religions. Ashanti Proverb (Ghana)
God is All-gentle to His servants, providing for whomsoever He will.
6. Islam. Qur'an 42.19
Tao never acts, yet nothing is left undone.
7. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 37
That which is free from birth, old age, disease, death, grief, pain, and fear, is eternal, blissful, and
the nature of pure delight, is called Nirvana.
8. Jainism. Samantabadhra, Ratnakarandasravakacara 131
This is Peace, this is the excellent, namely the calm of all the impulses, the casting out of all
"basis," the extinction of craving, dispassion, stopping, Nirvana.
9. Buddhism. Anguttara Nikaya v.322
He, indeed, is the great Purusha, the Lord, who inspires the mind to attain the state of
stainlessness. He is the Ruler and the imperishable Light.
10. Hinduism. Svetasvatara Upanishad 3.12
Qur'an 7.156: The mercy and beneficence of God are the foremost of His attributes mentioned in the
Fatihah, Qur'an 1, p. 53. Ashanti Proverb: cf. Kikuya Prayer, p. 779. Qur'an 42.19: Cf. Qur'an 2.268-69, p.
508. Tao Te Ching 37: Wu wei or Non-action is the Taoist concept comparable to love in Christianity or
mercy in Buddhism. It is the essence of Ultimate Reality's way of being and relating to creatures. It is
impartial, and wholly beneficent, whereas its opposite, action, is partial and leads to division, inequality,
and strife. Cf. Tao Te Ching 34, p. 141. Ratnkarandasravakacara 31 and Anguttara Nikaya v.322: Nirvana
is the Ultimate Good because it is the complete end of all the impulses and passions that produce evil.
Then did I recognize Thee in mind,
to be the first and the last, O Lord,
Father of good thought,
when I apprehended Thee in my eye,
True creator of Right,
the Lord over the actions of life!
11. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 31.8
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his compassion is over all that he has made.
12. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 145.8-9
The Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds-Who created me, and it is He who guides me;
Who gives me food and drink,
And when I am ill, it is He who cures me;
Who will cause me to die, and then to live again;
And Who, I hope, will forgive me my faults on the Day of Judgment.
13. Islam. Qur'an 26.77-82
The Dwelling of the Tathagata is the great compassionate heart within all the living. The Robe of
the Tathagata is the gentle and forbearing heart. The Seat of the Tathagata is the "spirituality of
all existence."
14. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 10
I have no corporeal existence,
but Universal Benevolence is my divine body.
I have no physical power,
but Uprightness is my strength.
I have no religious clairvoyance beyond what is bestowed by Wisdom,
I have no power of miracle other than the attainment of quiet happiness,
I have no tact except the exercise of gentleness.
15. Shinto. Oracle of the Kami of Sumiyoshi
God is beautiful and loves beauty.
16. Islam. Hadith of Muslim
Lotus Sutra 10: This is another way of asserting the one ultimate which is all-embracing. The twin pillars
of Mahayana Buddhism are wisdom (prajna) and compassion (karuna). At the level of feeling or
experience, compassion is that which embraces all things. Wisdom teaches the oneness and interconnectedness of all existence; hence it, too, evokes compassion. Hadith of Muslim: Cf. Atharva Veda
10.8.31, p. 76.
All that is evil, Savitri, God, send away from us,
and send us what is good.
Purified, for spiritual might, under God Savitri's impulsion,
we think of all beautiful things.
The universal God, Lord of goodness, we with hymns elect today,
Savitri, whose power lies in truth.
17. Hinduism. Rig Veda 5.82.5-7
Love is the firstborn, loftier than the gods, the Fathers and men.
You, O Love, are the eldest of all, altogether mighty.
To you we pay homage!
Greater than the breadth of earth and heaven, or of waters and Fire,
You, O Love, are the eldest of all, altogether mighty.
To you we pay homage!
In many a form of goodness, O Love, you show your face.
Grant that these forms may penetrate within our hearts.
Send elsewhere all malice!
18. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 9.2.19-20, 25
One attempting to express God's creation and to contemplate it
Shall find it beyond counting and innumerable.
The Bull of Dharma is born of compassion;
Content of mind holds creation together.
Whoever understands this is enlightened;
How great is the load under which this Bull stands!
19. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 16, M.1, p. 3
Rig Veda 5.28.5-7: God is recognized to be the source of goodness, truth, and beauty. Atharva Veda
9.2.19-20,25: Kama, translated 'Love,' is often translated Desire. Specifically, it is desire which seeks
fulfillment in love, comparable to the Western concept of eros. According to the Rig Veda 10.129, p.
130, this love is the creative and generative power for all life. Kama appears in myth as the enemy of
asceticism and spiritual attainment, yet he cannot be destroyed; all life depends upon the working of
desire; see Skanda Purana, pp. 421f. Adi Granth, Japuji 16: The underlying source of the
universe within its laws, the 'Bull of Dharma,' is the divine mind, specifically divine compassion. The
world's pain and suffering is a heavy burden indeed: cf. pp. 457-62.
O good man! One who acts good is the "true thinking."
The true thinking is compassion.
Compassion is the Tathagata.
O good man! Compassion is the bodhi path;
The bodhi path is the Tathagata.
The Tathagata is compassion.
O good man! Compassion is Great Brahma.
Great Brahma is compassion.
Compassion is the Tathagata.
O good man! Compassion acts as parent to all beings.
The parent is compassion.
Know that compassion is the Tathagata.
O good man! Compassion is the Buddha Nature of all beings.
Such a Buddha Nature is long overshadowed by illusion.
That is why beings cannot see.
The Buddha Nature is Compassion.
Compassion is the Tathagata.
20. Buddhism. Mahaparinirvana Sutra 259
God drives away flies for a cow which has no tail.
21. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)
It is the Way of Heaven to show no favoritism. It is for ever on the side of the good man.
22. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 79
What is God? He/she is an existence that absolutely lives for others.
23. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 4-16-88
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty and the terrible
God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow,
and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.
24. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Deuteronomy 10.17-18
Mahaparinirvana Sutra 259: Buddhist compassion is closer to the Western concept of agape love. It is
not desire seeking fulfillment, but rather the unconditional offering of love, like that of parents to their
children. Based on his compassion, Buddha is called the Father of the world in the Lotus Sutra 3, pp.
144f. Tao Te Ching 79: By 'favoritism' is meant the perquisites which the world gives to the rich and
powerful. Cf. Bhagavad Gita 9.29 and comparable passages, pp. 278-82. Sun Myung Moon, 4-16-88. Cf.
Matthew 5.43.48, p. 1000. Deuteronomy 10.17-18: God liberated Israel from slavery; the foundational
experience of God in the Judeo-Christian tradition is as defender of the poor and powerless. Cf. 1
Samuel 2.4-9, pp. 545f.
O Rudra, that form of Yours which is benevolent, not fearful, not manifesting the sinful, with that most
beneficent form, You who extend happiness to humankind from your mountain abode, reveal Yourself
to us often. This Rudra of blue neck and red complexion, who glides aside, Him the shepherds saw, the
servant maids that bring water saw, and even [the lowliest of] all beings saw--may He make us happy.
Obeisance to the God who is benevolent as well as terrible, who destroys beings and is their
protector as well. Obeisance to the small and the puny, to the big and the aged. Obeisance to Him
who is to be lauded with hymns and who is there where hymns do not reach. Obeisance to the
redeemer, to the bringer of peace and happiness, to the producer of well-being and joy.
Obeisance to Him who is auspicious and exceedingly so.
25. Hinduism. Black Yajur Veda 6.6
Lo! We have shown man the way, whether he be grateful or disbelieving.
26. Islam. Qur'an 76.3
He [God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the
27. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 5.45
The Tao is the refuge for the myriad creatures.
It is that by which the good man protects,
And that by which the bad is protected.
28. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 62
This world is a garden,
The Lord its gardener,
Cherishing all, none neglected.
29. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Majh Ashtpadi, M.3, p. 118
Abundant is the year, with much millet and much rice;
And we have our high granaries,
With myriads, and hundreds of thousands, and millions [of measures in them];
For spirits and sweet spirits,
To present our ancestors, male and female,
And to supply all our ceremonies.
The blessings sent down on us are of every kind.
30. Confucianism. Book of Songs, Ode 279
Black Yajur Veda 6.6: Rudra is another name for Shiva. The last sentence is the sacred Shiva mantra.
Qur'an 76.3 and Matthew 5.45: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 9.29, p. 246; Romans 2.9-11, p. 246; Sun Myung
Moon, p. 506; Vitaragastava 13.1, p. 506.
The scent of the sakaki leaves is fragrant;
Drawing near, I see countless kinsmen
Assembled all around,
Assembled all around.
On divine-dwelling mountain of sacred altar,
The sakaki leaves have grown thick
In the presence of the kami.
Before the kami
They have grown in profusion.
31. Shinto. Kagura-Uta
The great Tao flows everywhere;
It can go left; it can go right.
The myriad things owe their existence to it,
And it does not reject them.
When its work is accomplished,
It does not take possession.
It clothes and feeds all,
But does not pose as their master.
Ever without ambition,
It may be called Small.
All things return to it as their home,
And yet it does not pose as their master,
Therefore it may be called Great.
Because it would never claim greatness,
Therefore its greatness is fully realized.
32. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 34
It is He who sends down to you out of heaven water of which you may drink, and by which
[grow] trees, for you to pasture your herds, and thereby He brings forth for you crops, and olives,
and palms, and vines, and all manner of fruit.
Surely in that is a sign for a people who reflect.
And He subjected for you the night and day, and the sun and moon; and the stars are subjected
by His command.
Surely in that are signs for a people who understand.
And He has multiplied for you in the earth things of diverse hues. Surely in that is a sign for a
people who remember.
It is He who subjected for you the sea, that you may eat of it fresh flesh, and bring forth out of it
ornaments for you to wear; and you may see the ships cleaving through it; that you may seek of
His bounty, and so haply you will be thankful....
If you count God's blessing, you can never number it; surely God is All-forgiving, Allcompassionate.
33. Islam. Qur'an 16.10-18
Kagura-Uta: The branches of the sakaki tree, called tamagushi, are sacred in Shinto rites, and
worshippers attach to them their offerings of hemp and paper streamers containing the prayers and
fortunes of loved ones. The branches symbolize the spirit of the kami bestowing blessings to the world.
Shinto worship incorporates ritual dances (kagura) which seek to bring about harmony in the universe.
In the Kojiki, the kami are themselves seen performing a cosmic dance. Compare the dance of Shiva in
Hinduism, which has both a creative and preservative role. Cf. One Hundred Poems on the Jewelled
Spear, pp. 780f. Tao Te Ching 34: This selfless Tao is the way of the sage; cf Tao Te Ching 2, p. 941.
Qur'an 16.10-18: Cf. Qur'an 6.95-99, pp. 76f.; 30.20-25, p. 77; 55.5-30, pp. 128f.
Know, Kashyapa!
It is like unto a great cloud
Rising above the world,
Covering all things everywhere,
A gracious cloud full of moisture;
Lightning-flames flash and dazzle,
Voice of thunder vibrates afar,
Bringing joy and ease to all.
The sun's rays are veiled,
And the earth is cooled;
The cloud lowers and spreads
As if it might be caught and gathered;
Its rain everywhere equally
Descends on all sides,
Streaming and pouring unstinted,
Permeating the land.
On mountains, by rivers, in valleys,
In hidden recesses, there grow
The plants, trees, and herbs;
Trees, both great and small,
The shoots of the ripening grain,
Grape vine and sugar cane.
Fertilized are these by the rain
And abundantly enriched;
The dry ground is soaked,
Herbs and trees flourish together.
From the one water which
Issued from that cloud,
Plants, trees, thickets, forests,
According to their need receive moisture.
All the various trees,
Lofty, medium, low,
Each according to its size,
Grows and develops
Roots, stalks, branches, leaves,
Blossoms and fruits in their brilliant colors;
Wherever the one rain reaches,
All become fresh and glossy.
According as their bodies, forms
And natures are great or small,
So the enriching rain,
Though it is one and the same,
Yet makes each of them flourish.
In like manner also the Buddha
Appears here in the world,
Like unto a great cloud
Universally covering all things;
And having appeared in the world,
He, for the sake of the living,
Discriminates and proclaims
The truth in regard to all laws.
The Great Holy World-honored One,
Among the gods and men
And among the other beings,
Proclaims abroad this word:
"I am the Tathagata,
The Most Honored among men;
I appear in the world
Like unto this great cloud,
To pour enrichment on all
Parched living beings,
To free them from their misery
To attain the joy of peace,
Joy of the present world,
And joy of Nirvana....
Upon all I ever look
Everywhere impartially,
Without distinction of persons,
Or mind of love or hate.
I have no predilections
Nor any limitations;
Ever to all beings
I preach the Law equally;
As I preach to one person,
So I preach to all.
Ever I proclaim the Law,
Engaged in naught else;
Going, coming, sitting, standing,
Never am I weary of
Pouring it copious on the world,
Like the all-enriching rain.
On honored and humble, high and low,
Law-keepers and law-breakers,
Those of perfect character,
And those of imperfect,
Orthodox and heterodox,
Quick-witted and dull-witted,
Equally I rain the Law-rain
34. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 5
Lotus Sutra 5: This Parable of the Rain Cloud describes the impartial and equal care which the Buddha
gives to all creatures. In addition, it speaks to the specific issue of this sutra, which is the unity of the
various paths (shravaka-vehicle, pratyekabuddha-vehicle, and bodhisattva-vehicle) as stepping stones in
the overarching dispensation of the Buddha--the One Vehicle.
World Scripture
Divine love and compassion is often expressed by the relationship of parent and child. The Jewish and
Christian scriptures call God our Heavenly Father; in the Lotus Sutra the Buddha is called Father of the
World; and similar statements are found in the Vedas and the Confucian classics. In many religious
traditions Ultimate Reality is also recognized to be our divine Mother. Often God's Fatherhood and
Motherhood are identified with Heaven and Earth, which cooperate in the creation and nurturing of
human kind and the universe.
We may recognize from these scriptures that Ultimate Reality has the attributes of both Father
and Mother. Even religions that restrict the vision of God to a patriarchal image only, or religions
like Islam that avoid using the language of parenthood altogether, describe God's love in terms
that can be said to encompass both fatherly love--Creator, Teacher, Guide, and Savior--and
motherly love--Nurturer, Fount of compassion, and Sustainer.1
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
1. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 6.9
God! Give us wisdom as a father gives to his sons.
Guide us, O Much-invoked, in this path.
May we live in light.
2. Hinduism. Rig Veda 7.32.26
I tell you, Shariputra,
I, too, am like this,
Being the Most Venerable among many saints,
The Father of the World....
I tell you, Shariputra,
You men
Are all my children,
And I am your Father.
For age upon age, you
Have been scorched by multitudinous woes,
And I have saved you all.
3. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 3
1Islam's reticence about describing God as Father may be understood in light of its strong rejection of
polytheistic religions in which gods beget other gods. Any language which could be suggestive of divine
procreation--and the notion of a heavenly father could be misinterpreted to give such a mistaken idea-is avoided in the Qur'an.
Do you thus requite the Lord,
you foolish and senseless people?
Is not he your father, who created you,
who made you and established you?
He found [Israel] in a desert land,
in the howling waste of the wilderness
; He encircled him, he cared for him,
he kept him as the apple of his eye.
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
that flutters over its young,
Spreading out its wings, catching them,
bearing them on its pinions,
The Lord alone did lead him,
and there was no foreign god with him.
4. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Deuteronomy 32.6, 10-12
You are the children of the Lord your God.
5. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Deuteronomy 14.1
For all who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of
slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba!
Father!" it is the Spirit himself bearing witness that we are the children of God, and if children,
then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided that we suffer with him in order
that we may also be glorified with him.
6. Christianity. Bible, Romans 8.14-17
Lotus Sutra 3: This stanza follows the Parable of the Burning House, in which the Buddha, as a
compassionate father, rescues his children from the burning house of mundane existence by various
means. The image of existence as burning goes back to the Buddha himself; cf. the Fire Sermon, p. 382.
The Buddha is our parent by virtue of his limitless compassion--see Mahaparinirvana Sutra 259, p. 138.
Deuteronomy 14.1: Some Christians stereotype Judaism as a religion in which man relates to God as a
servant to his master, whereas the revelation of Christ opened for the first time the more intimate
relationship of a child to his Heavenly Father. This is the negative side of Paul's joyous experience of
sonship in Romans 8.14-17. Yet Judaism in its true expression also seeks the intimacy of a parent-child
relationship. God already revealed his abiding fatherly love for his people in the Torah of the Jews, in
such passages as Isaiah 1.2, 63.16, 64.8 and Jeremiah 3.19; cf. the Kaddish, p. 54.
Anas and 'Abdullah reported God's Messenger as saying, "All [human] creatures are God's children, and
those dearest to God are those who treat His children kindly."
7. Islam. Hadith of Baihaqi
God Himself told me that the most basic and central truth of the universe is that God is the
Father and we are His children. We are all created as children of God. And He said there is
nothing closer, nothing deeper, nothing more ultimate than when father and son are one: One in
love, one in life, and one in ideal.
8. Unification Church Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73
Why did God create the universe? The reason is that God wants to realize the relationship of
Father and children centering on love. So we can come to the conclusion that the foundation of
the universe is the relationship of Father and children.
9. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 6-20-82
We are the children of our Maker
And do not fear that he will kill us.
We are the children of God
And do not fear that he will kill.
10. African Traditional Religions. Dinka Prayer (Sudan)
What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if
he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good
gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who
ask him!
11. Christianity. Bible, Luke 11.11-13
That breast of Thine which is inexhaustible, health-giving,
by which Thou nursest all that is noble,
containing treasure, bearing wealth, bestowed freely;
lay that bare, Sarasvati [divine Mother], for our nurture.
12. Hinduism. Rig Veda 1.164.49
Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73: Our relationship with God includes the dimension of empathy with the
divine heart. It should mirror--in its intimacy and through comparable ethical norms--the natural relation
of a child to his or her parent. Sun Myung Moon, 6-20-82: Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 2-12-61, p. 117n. Dinka
Prayer: Cf. Tiv Proverb, p. 559. Rig Veda 1.164.49: Cf. Candi-Mahatmya 10, p. 565; Sarang, M.1, p. 763.
On earth as the divine Mother, see Atharva Veda 12.1, pp. 296f.
As one whom his mother comforts,
so will I comfort you;
You shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
13. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 66.13
The Valley Spirit never dies.
It is named the Mysterious Female.
And the Doorway of the Mysterious Female
Is the base from which sprang Heaven and Earth.
It is there within us all the while;
Draw upon it as you will, it never runs dry.
14. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 6
O Mother of Imupa, advocate for the whole [feminine] world!
What a remarkable Mother I have!
O Mother, a pillar, a refuge!
O Mother, to whom all prostrate in greeting
Before one enters her habitation!
I am justly proud of my Mother.
O Mother who arrives,
Who arrives majestic and offers water to all!
15. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Prayer (Nigeria)
I am Father and Mother of the world.
16. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 9.17
Thou art Father, Mother, Friend, Brother.
With Thee as succorer in all places, what fear have I?
17. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Majh M.5, p. 103
Love, the divine Principle, is the Father and Mother of the universe, including man.
18. Christian Science. Science and Health, p. 256
Isaiah 66.13: This is one of the many images of the feminine and motherly aspect of God found in the
Bible; cf. Hosea 11.1-9, pp. 460f. Tao Te Ching 6: Cf. Tao Te Ching 20, p. 608. Yoruba Prayer: On God
worshipped as Father in African traditional religions, we have texts from a Nuer Prayer, p. 54; a Susu
Prayer, p. 209, and a Kikuya Prayer, p. 779.
For God, people of the whole world are all My children. All of you equally must understand that I am
your Parent.
19. Tenrikyo. Ofudesaki IV.79
Heaven and Earth are the father and mother of the ten thousand things. Men are the sensibility of
the ten thousand things.
20. Confucianism. Book of History 5.1.1: The Great Declaration
All ye under the heaven! Regard heaven as your father, earth as your mother, and all things as
your brothers and sisters.
21. Shinto. Oracle of the Kami of Atsuta
Mother Earth have pity on us and give us food to eat!
Father, the Sun, bless all our children and may our paths be straight!
22. Native American Religions. Blackfoot Prayer
The Great Principle, the Divine, is my womb;
I cast the seed into it;
There is the origin
of all creatures.
Whatever forms originate
in any wombs
The real womb is the Divine, the Great Principle.
I am the Father that gives the seed.
23. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 14.4
Book of History 5.1.1: The complete passage (see p. 1067) states that the ruler is likewise father and
mother to the people. Oracle of the Kami of Atsuta: This notion that people are tied together with the
kami and things of nature in one universal family builds a sense of community and respect for nature.
Atsuta is a shrine near Nagoya. Blackfoot Prayer: Cf. Cheyenne Song, p. 294; Cree Round Dance Song, p.
55, and Okanagan Creation, p. 298. For a comparable Hindu passage, see Rig Veda 1.185.1-5, p. 177
World Scripture
CHAPTER 2: Divine Law, Truth, and Cosmic
Eternal Truth
Moral Law
The Decalogue
The Golden Rule
Polarity, Relationality, And Interdependence
Cosmic Justice
All religions recognize a transcendent Law, Truth, or Principle which governs the universe and
human affairs. Sometimes this Principle is identified with Ultimate Reality itself, but it is more
often consequent upon and subordinate to it. We have placed side by side passages on the Word
(Greek: logos) or Wisdom (Hebrew: kochma) of Christianity, Torah of Judaism, Dharma and
order (Rita) of Hinduism; and Tao and Principle (li) of Chinese Religion. In Buddhism we have
passages on several related concepts: Wisdom (prajna), Absolute Truth (dharmadhatu), and
Teaching (dhamma). In placing passages on these concepts together, their variety should
illuminate the subtle differences between them.
In some religious doctrines, truth or lawfulness is a property inherent in Ultimate Reality. The
laws of the universe are the basis of the Absolute--e.g., the Tao of Chinese religion which is the
creative principle itself, or the Absolute Truth which is realized by the Buddha. In other
traditions--Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and theistic Hinduism--God conceives of Law and then
sets it up as the standard or measure for his work of creation. This leads to a question which has
engaged theologians: is God bound by his own laws, or is he free to contravene them to perform
miracles, etc.? Hindu mythology has no trouble with deities performing all manner of miracles,
but in Christianity the tendency has been to assert the consistency of rational principles, and even
to seek explanations for the miraculous within the normal functioning of natural law. In
Christianity, the Word finds its chief manifestation in Christ, the Word made flesh, the Truth
incarnate. This is echoed in Confucian and Buddhist scriptures where the Tao or the Dharma is
only completely realized by a perfectly enlightened being. In some traditions, the law is a
property of samsaric existence which must ultimately be transcended--e.g., the Hindu and Jain
law of karma and the Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination. Similarly in Christianity Paul
critiques the law as a form of slavery, unable to save. These are some of the diverse colors which
one finds in these passages depicting the Truth or Law or Principle which is at the heart of the
Regardless of these differences, all these religious viewpoints share a respect for the Law which
human beings violate at their peril. The universe is fundamentally moral, an expression of the
workings of a divine Principle or natural law in both the realms of nature and of human affairs.
Hence human morality is not relative, not explicable as the result of social and cultural
conditioning alone. Morality and ethics are rooted in the way things are (ontology); they are as
enduring as the laws of physics.
This chapter treats the topic of divine Law under six heads. The first section deals with the
origins and foundations of law as the eternal, pre-existent and all-pervasive ground of existing
reality. The second section discusses divine law as the ground for human ethics and the basis for
the path to liberation. The remaining sections treat four general expressions of law. First we have
lists of divine commandments. The chief example is the Ten Commandments or Decalogue of
Christianity and Judaism, but there are many parallels in other scriptures, for example the
Buddhist Eightfold Path. Next is the Golden Rule, or the principle of reciprocity, which is found
universally in the scriptures of all religions. This concise principle is often regarded as a
summary statement of all ethics. Then in the fifth section we move to a more philosophical plane
and treat interdependence and mutuality as a principle at work throughout nature. We include
passages on the polarities of yang and yin, Shiva and Shakti, Purusha and prakriti, and passages
on the relativity and interchangeability of all phenomena. The final section treats the law of
cause and effect, karma, and the principle of divine justice through which each person reaps what
he or she has sown.
World Scripture
This section begins with passages on the pre-existence of the Word, Truth, Wisdom, or Principle before
the creation of the universe, and its function in guiding the creative process. They are followed by
passages on the pervading reality of Truth which operates through the specific laws of the cosmos.
Sometimes this Truth may be grasped by ordinary reason as the impersonal laws which govern the
cosmos. Other passages describe the essence of Truth as that which is comprehended only in Christ, or
in Buddha, or in the mind of the sage. It does not partake of anything evil or immoral, according to
Confucianism, and hence is only accessible to the moral person. Analogously for Christians, the Word is
manifested completely only in Christ, the perfect man. Finally, this spiritual Word, according to
Buddhism, is hidden from surface phenomena and may be understood only when the external world is
not grasped or discriminated. It is 'Mind-only,' a theme that finds echoes in contemporary metaphysical
movements such as Christian Science.
He has created the heavens and the earth with truth.
1. Islam. Qur'an 16.3
From the bosom of the sacred Word he brought forth the world. On high, below, he abides in his
own laws.
2. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 4.1.3
Qur'an 16.3: Cf. Shabbat 55, p. 1081. Atharva Veda 4.1.3: Cf. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.14, p. 1062.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of thy throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before
3. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 8914
God moves according to universal law. Universal law does not work for the sake of oneself, but
for the public good. Universal law embodies the spirit of sacrifice and service towards others.
4. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 9-30-79
By Truth is the earth sustained,
and by the sun are the heavens;
By Order (Rita) the gods stand
and Soma is set in the sky.
5. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.85.1
God ordained the measures of the creation fifty thousand years before He created the heavens
and the earth, while His throne was on the waters.
6. Islam. Hadith of Muslim
This, [in the beginning] was the only Lord of the Universe. His Word was with him. This Word
was his second. He contemplated. He said, "I will deliver this Word so that she will produce and
bring into being all this world."
7. Hinduism. Tandya Maha Brahmana 20.14.2
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in
the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything
made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
8. Christianity. Bible, John 1.1-4
Universal Order and Truth
were born of blazing spiritual fire,
and thence night was born, and thence
the billowy ocean of space.
From the billowy ocean of space
was born Time--the year
ordaining days and nights,
the ruler of every moment.
In the beginning, as before,
the Creator made the sun,
the moon, the heaven and the earth,
the firmament and the realm of light.
9. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.190.1-3
Sun Myung Moon, 9-30-79: Cf. Galatians 6.2, p. 974; Shabbat 31a, p. 173. Rig Veda 10.85.1: Cf. Atharva
Veda 10.8.31, p. 76, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.14, p. 1062. Tandya Maha Brahmana 20.14.2: 'This'
signifies the impersonal Absolute; cf. Rig Veda 1.64.45, p. 806. John 1.1-4: In Greek philosophy, the
Word is the logos or plan by which God created the universe. The Bible asserts that Christ is himself the
Word, the model and plan for creation; cf. Colossians 1.15-17. The Buddhist doctrine of the
Dharmakaya, by which the Buddha is one with the eternally abiding reality of the universe, is similar
except that there is no creation; cf. Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 5, p. 652; Samyutta Nikaya iii.120, p.
The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth.
Before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
When he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
When he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
Then I was beside him, like a master workman;
I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always;
rejoicing in his inhabited world,
and delighting in the sons of men.
10. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Proverbs 8.22-31
"Then I was beside Him, as a nursling (amon); and I was daily all [His] delight" (Proverbs
8.30).... 'Amon' is a workman (uman). The Torah thus declares, "I was the working tool of the
Holy One, blessed be He." In human practice, when a mortal king builds a palace, he builds it
not with his own skill but with the skill of an architect. The architect moreover does not build it
out of his head, but employs plans and diagrams to know how to arrange the chambers and the
doors. Thus God consulted the Torah and created the world.
11. Judaism. Midrash, Genesis Rabbah 1.1
Rig Veda 10.190.1-3: Tapas, the 'spiritual fire' harnessed and concentrated through meditation, is
regarded as the source of all creative energy; cf. Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.8, p. 132; Prasna Upanishad
1.4-5, p. 176. Truth and Order were the first productions of tapas. In the third stanza, the words 'as
before' indicates recurrent creation. Proverbs 8.22-31: Wisdom is personified here and in Proverbs 8.111, pp. 788f. For Christians wisdom is the preexistent Word that is incarnate in Christ; for Jews wisdom is
Torah, as in the following passage, which is a midrash (rabbinic interpretation) on this one. On the preexistence of wisdom, cf. 1 Corinthians 2.6-7, p. 538. Regarding the term 'master workman,' the Hebrew
word 'amon' is rare, and some translate it 'little child,' which seems better to fit the context. See the
next passage. Genesis Rabbah 1.1: See previous note.
I pay homage to the Perfection of Wisdom! She is worthy of homage. She is unstained, the entire world
cannot stain her. She is a source of light, and from everyone in the triple world she removes darkness,
and she leads away from the blinding darkness caused by the defilements and by wrong views. In her we
can find shelter. Most excellent are her works. She makes us seek the safety of the wings of
Enlightenment. She brings light to the blind, she brings light so that all fear and distress may be
forsaken.... She is the mother of the Bodhisattvas, on account of the emptiness of her own marks. As the
donor of the jewel of all the Buddha-dharmas she brings about the ten powers [of a Buddha]. She
cannot be crushed. She protects the unprotected, with the help of the four grounds of self-confidence.
She is the antidote to birth-and-death. She has a clear knowledge of the own-being of all dharmas, for
she does not stray away from it. The Perfection of Wisdom of the Buddhas, the Lords, sets in motion the
Wheel of the Law.
12. Buddhism. Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 7.1
The Tao has its reality and its signs but is without action or form. You can hand it down but you
cannot receive it; you can get it but you cannot see it. It is its own source, its own root. Before
heaven and earth existed it was there, firm from ancient times. It gave spirituality to the spirits
and to God; it gave birth to heaven and to earth. It exists beyond the highest point, and yet you
cannot call it lofty; it exists beneath the limit of the six directions, and yet you cannot call it
deep. It was born before heaven and earth, and yet you cannot say it has been there for long; it is
earlier than the earliest time, and yet you cannot call it old.
13. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 6
By Divine Law are all forms manifested;
Inexpressible is the Law.
By Divine Law are beings created;
By Law are some exalted.
By Divine Law are beings marked with nobility or ignominy;
By the Law are they visited with bliss or bale.
On some by His Law falls grace;
Others by His Law are whirled around in cycles of births and deaths.
All by the Law are governed,
None is exempt.
Says Nanak, Should man realize the power of the Law,
He would certainly disclaim his ego.
14. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 2, M.1, p. 1
The moral law is to be found everywhere, and yet it is a secret.
The simple intelligence of ordinary men and women of the people may understand something of
the moral law; but in its utmost reaches there is something which even the wisest and holiest men
cannot understand. The ignoble natures of ordinary men and women of the people may be able to
carry out the moral law; but in its utmost reaches even the wisest and holiest of men cannot live
up to it.
Great as the Universe is, man is yet not always satisfied with it. For there is nothing so great but
the mind of the moral man can conceive of something still greater which nothing in the world
can hold. There is nothing so small but the mind of the moral man can conceive of something
still smaller which nothing in the world can split.
The Book of Songs says,
The hawk soars to the heavens above
Fishes dive to the depths below.
That is to say, there is no place in the highest heavens above nor in the deepest waters below
where the moral law is not to be found. The moral man finds the moral law beginning in the
relation between man and woman; but ending in the vast reaches of the universe.
15. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 12
Chuang Tzu 6: Cf. Chuang Tzu 31, p. 120, I Ching, Great Commentary 1.4.i-iv, pp. 323f. Japuji 2: Cf. Japuji
3, p. 94.
There is no changing the words of God; that is the mighty triumph.
16. Islam. Qur'an 10.64
Falsehood shall be destroyed; truth in the end shall prevail.
17. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Ramkali Ki Var, M.1, p. 953
Truth is victorious, never untruth.
Truth is the way; truth is the goal of life,
Reached by sages who are free from self-will.
18. Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.6
The question as to when the union of soul with karma occurred for the first time cannot arise,
since this is a beginningless relation like gold and stone.
19. Jainism. Pancadhyayi 2.35-36
The ten thousand things all come from the same seed, and with their different forms they give
place to one another. Beginning and end are part of a single ring and no one can comprehend its
principle. This is called Heaven the Equalizer.
20. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 27
The world exists because of causal actions, all things are produced by causal actions and all
beings are governed and bound by causal actions. They are fixed like the rolling wheel of a cart,
fixed by the pin of its axle shaft.
21. Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 654
Pancadhyayi 2.35-36: The principles governing the influx and stopping of karma determine both the laws
of cause and effect and the laws of liberation.
What, brethren, is causal happening?
"Conditioned by rebirth is decay and death."
Whether, brethren, there be an arising of Tathagatas or whether there be no
such arising, this nature of things just stands, this causal status, this
causal orderliness, the relatedness of this to that.
22. Buddhism. Samyutta Nikaya ii.25
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me."
23. Christianity. Bible, John 14.6
Concerning the prime, rare, hard-to-understand dharmas, only a Buddha and a Buddha can
exhaust their reality, namely, the suchness of the dharmas, the suchness of their marks, the
suchness of their nature, the suchness of their substance, the suchness of their powers, the
suchness of their functions, the suchness of their causes, the suchness of their conditions, the
suchness of their effects, the suchness of their retributions, and the absolute identity of their
beginning and end.
24. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 2
In the Book of Songs it is said,
The ordinance of God,
How inscrutable it is and goes on for ever.
That is to say, this is the essence of God. It is again said,
How excellent it is,
The moral perfection of King Wen.
That is to say, this is the essence of the noble character of the Emperor Wen. Moral perfection
also never dies.
25. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 26.10
Sutta Nipata 654: This also refers to the laws of karma; cf. Maitri Upanishad 4.2, p. 696; Dhammapada
127, p. 187, Surangama Sutra, p. 387. John 14.6: Jesus reveals the eternal truth by his own personal
example and way of life--the manifestation of God's love and truth. This and the following passages
describe the truth as that which is comprehended by the mind of a saint. Lotus Sutra 2: There is one
ultimate reality which embraces everything--'suchness.' This is also expressed through the universality of
the Buddha nature and the all-encompassing Dharmakaya which is the Buddha's body. There is nothing
real apart from Reality itself. Doctrine of the Mean 26.10: In other words, the truth of Heaven and the
moral perfection of the sage are alike; both continue for ever.
"What is meant by an eternally-abiding reality? The ancient road of reality, Mahamati, has been here all
the time, like gold, silver, or pearl preserved in the mine. The Dharmadhatu (Absolute Truth) abides
forever, whether the Tathagata appears in the world or not. As the Tathagata eternally abides so does
the Reason of all things. Reality forever abides, reality keeps its order, like the roads in an ancient city.
For instance, a man who is walking in a forest and discovering an ancient city with its orderly
streets may enter into the city, and having entered into it, he may have a rest, conduct himself
like a citizen, and enjoy all the pleasures accruing therefrom. What do you think, Mahamati? Did
this man make the road along which he enters into the city, and the various things in the city?"
"No, Blessed One."
"Just so, what has been realized by myself and the other Tathagatas is this Reality, this eternallyabiding reality, the self-regulating reality, the Suchness of things, the Realness of things, the
truth itself.
The world of the ignorant is observed as the continuation of birth and death, whereby dualisms
are nourished, and because of the perversion [the truth] is not perceived.
There is just one truth, which is Nirvana--it has nothing to do with intellection. The world seen
as subject to discrimination resembles a plantain tree, a dream, a mirage.
The Mind as norm is the abode of self-nature which has nothing to do with the realm of
causation; of this norm, which is perfect existence and the highest Absolute, I speak.
Of neither existence nor non-existence do I speak, but of Mind-only which has nothing to do
with existence and non-existence, and which is thus free from intellection.
Suchness, emptiness, Absolute Truth... these I call Mind-only.
26. Buddhism. Lankavatara Sutra 61, 63, 64
The universe, like man, is to be interpreted by Science from its divine Principle, God, and then it
can be understood; but when explained on the basis of physical sense and represented as subject
to growth, maturity, and decay, the universe, like man, is, and must continue to be, an enigma.
Adhesion, cohesion, and attraction are properties of Mind. They belong to divine Principle, and
support the equipoise of that thought-force, which launched the earth in its orbit and said to the
proud wave, "Thus far and no farther."
Spirit is the life, substance and continuity of all things. We tread on forces. Withdraw them, and
creation must collapse. Human knowledge calls them forces of matter; but divine Science
declares that they belong wholly to divine Mind, are inherent in this Mind, and so restores them
to their rightful home and classification.
27. Christian Science. Science and Health, 124
Lankavatara Sutra: See Surangama Sutra, p. 387. The 'highest Absolute' means the reality cleansed of all
impure dualistic discriminations. The parable of the ancient city is also found in the Theravada
scriptures: see Samyutta Nikaya ii.106, pp. 547f. On the difference between truth and intellection, see
Garland Sutra 10, p. 799, and related passages.
World Scripture
Unlike the laws described by modern science, the immutable divine Law is inherently moral, and is the
basis for human ethics. The Hindu concept of Dharma, for example, embraces at once the cosmological,
ethical, social, and legal principles that provide the basis for belief in an ordered universe and an
ordered, prosperous society. Religion, therefore, cannot easily accept the modern distinction between
fact and value: there are ethical values in human life that are every bit as absolute as the fact that the
earth revolves about the sun. The way to salvation lies in following the divine laws and revealed
teachings--e.g., the Tao (Taoism), the Torah (Judaism), the Reading (Islam), the eternal Dharma
(Hinduism and Sikhism), the Dhamma revealed by the Buddha, or the Word revealed in the Gospel
The Law applies to all people, though not always equally. Most religions, including Buddhism,
Islam, and Christianity, teach a single standard of law that applies to all people. In Hinduism,
however, there are different dharmas for people of different social status (varna), stage of life
(ashrama), and quality of inborn nature (guna), even though this differentiation should not
obscure an underlying unity in the divine principle. Sometimes religions distinguish between the
law for believers and the law for unbelievers, for the law of the community of believers is
distinctive in that it is covenanted (contracted) with God. Regardless of this tendency to
pluralism of laws, we can discern an underlying common ground for the moral law--often called
natural law--which transcends religion or social circumstance. This common ground will be
explored in the following sections on the Decalogue and the Golden Rule.
This section begins with passages urging people to follow the divine law or holy teachings.
These laws are liberating. They define the Way through which a person sanctifies his life,
according to Judaism. They lay out the road to heaven, according to Hinduism and Sikhism, or to
Nirvana, according to Buddhism. They are the keys to happiness and success in life, as depicted
through the parables of the tree and the rock from the scriptures of Christianity and Islam.
Law or Teaching is often an ambiguous concept, for there are laws that fetter as well as teachings
that liberate. Christianity, for example, distinguishes the Mosaic Law which educates but
confines from the liberating grace available through faith in Christ. Works of law cannot save or
liberate, according to passages from the New Testament, the Upanishads, and the Buddhist
scriptures. Laws and doctrines are of provisional value, a concession to human sin, according to
a text from the Tao Te Ching. These religions look beyond the limitations of law to a higher
relationship with the Absolute, what the Christian calls justification by faith, the Hindu
experiences as union with Brahman, and the Buddhist experiences as Enlightenment. The
concluding passages suggest this limitation of law and works done to fulfill the law.
Liberation comes from living the holy Word.
1. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sri Raga, Ashtpadi 14.8, M.1, p. 62
To him who orders his way aright,
I will show the salvation of God!
2. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 50.23
The God of old bids us all abide by His injunctions.
Then shall we get whatever we want,
Be it white or red.
3. African Traditional Religion. Akan Prayer on Talking Drums
Sri Raga: Cf. Japuji 1, p. 722.
He who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets
but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.
4. Christianity. Bible, James 1.25
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to
walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul, and to keep the commandments and the statutes of the Lord, which I command you
this day for your good?
5. Judaism. Bible, Deuteronomy 10.12-13
God has revealed the fairest of statements, a Scripture consistent, [with promises of reward]
paired [with threats of punishment], at which creeps the flesh of those who fear their Lord, so
that their flesh and their hearts soften to God's reminder. Such is God's guidance, with which He
guides whom He will. And him whom God sends astray, for him there is no guide.
6. Islam. Qur'an 39.23
The Holy One desired to make Israel worthy, so He gave them many laws and commandments.
7. Judaism. Mishnah, Makkot 3.16
Truth is victorious, never untruth.
Truth is the way; truth is the goal of life,
Reached by sages who are free from self-will.
8. Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.6
Truth is said to be the one unequalled means of purification of the soul. Truth is the ladder by
which man ascends to heaven, as a ferry plies from one bank of a river to another.
9. Hinduism. Narada Dharma Sutra 1.210
Because perfect wisdom tames and transforms him, wrath and conceit he does not increase.
Neither enmity nor ill-will take hold of him, nor is there even a tendency towards them. He will
be mindful and friendly.... It is wonderful how this perfection of wisdom has been set up for the
control and training of the Bodhisattvas.
10. Buddhism. Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 3.51-54
James 1.25: Cf. John 8.23, p. 532. Deuteronomy 10.12-13: Cf. Joshua 1.1-9, p. 1056. Makkot 3.16: For
Jews, the Law is not a burden--as some interpret Paul in Galatians 3.10-14, p. 163--but a way of
sanctification; cf. Abot 6.2, p. 532; Tanhuma Shimeni 15b, p. 855.
Then do I proclaim what the Most Beneficent spoke to me,
The Words to be heeded, which are best for mortals:
Those who shall give hearing and reverence
Shall attain unto Perfection and Immortality
By the deeds of good spirit of the Lord of Wisdom!
11. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 45.5
Sweet blows the breeze for him who lives by Law, rivers for him pour sweets.
So [as we live by Law] may the plants be sweet to us!
Pleasant be our nights, pleasant dawns, and pleasant the dust of the earth!
Pleasant for us be Father Heaven!
12. Hinduism. Rig Veda 1.90.6-7
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
The precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring for ever;
The ordinances of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
13. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 19.7-10
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of the sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water,
that yields its fruit in its season
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
14. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 1.1-3
Yasna 45.5: See Yasna 34.12, p. 771. Psalm 19.7-10: See Abot 3.6, p. 770. Psalm 1.1-3: See Joshua 1.1-9,
p. 1056. This and the following passage from the Qur'an use the image of the Tree of Life to describe the
person who lives in accordance with God's Word; cf. Revelation 22.1-5, pp. 1118f. Likewise, in John 15.411, p. 646 and Var Majh, M.1, pp. 645f. the Tree of Life symbolizes the founder and those who are
united with him.
Have you not seen how God has struck a similitude?
A good word is as a good tree-its roots are firm,
and its branches are in heaven;
it gives its produce every season
by the leave of its Lord.
So God strikes similitudes for men;
haply they will remember.
And the likeness of a corrupt word
is as a corrupt tree-uprooted form the earth,
having no establishment.
God confirms those who believe with the firm word,
in the present life and in the world to come;
and God leads astray the evildoers;
and God does what He will.
15. Islam. Qur'an 14.24-27
What Tao plants cannot be plucked,
What Tao clasps cannot slip.
By its virtue alone can one generation after another carry on the ancestral sacrifice.
Apply it to yourself and by its power you will be freed from dross.
Apply it to your household and your household shall thereby have abundance.
Apply it to the village, and the village will be made secure.
Apply it to the kingdom, and the kingdom shall thereby be made to flourish.
Apply it to an empire, and the empire shall thereby be extended.
16. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 54
Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built
his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon
that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears
these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon
the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house,
and it fell; and great was the fall of it.
17. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 7.24-27
Whoever lives contemplating pleasant things, with senses unrestrained, in food immoderate,
indolent, inactive, him verily Mara overthrows, as the wind blows down a weak tree.
Whoever lives contemplating the impurities of the body, with senses restrained, in food
moderate, full of faith, full of sustained energy, him Mara overthrows not, as the wind cannot
shake a rocky mountain.
18. Buddhism. Dhammapada 7-8
Matthew 7.24-27: Cf. Dhammapada 25, p. 715. Dhammapada 7-8: Cf. Dhammapada 337, pp. 927f.
Why, is he better who founds his building upon the fear of God and His good pleasure, or he
who founds his building upon the brink of a crumbling bank that will tumble with him into the
fire of hell? And God does not guide the people of the evildoers.
The buildings they have built will not cease to be a point of doubt within their hearts, until their
hearts are cut to pieces; God is All-knowing, All-wise.
19. Islam. Qur'an 9.109-10
Easily known is the progressive one, easily known the one who declines. He who loves Dhamma
progresses, he who hates it declines.
20. Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 92
The night passes; it is never to return again.
The night passes in vain
for one who acts not according to the law.
21. Jainism. Uttaradhyayana Sutra 14.24
Those who live in accordance with the divine laws without complaining, firmly established in
faith, are released from karma. Those who violate these laws, criticizing and complaining, are
utterly deluded, and are the cause of their own suffering.
22. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 3.31-32
Confucius remarked, "The life of the moral man is an exemplification of the universal moral
order (chung yung). The life of the vulgar person, on the other hand, is a contradiction of the
universal moral order.
"The moral man's life is an exemplification of the universal order, because he is a moral person
who unceasingly cultivates his true self or moral being. The vulgar person's life is a contradiction
of the universal order, because he is a vulgar person who in his heart has no regard for, or fear of,
the moral law."
23. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 2
The blessed Buddhas, of virtues endless and limitless, are born of the Law of Righteousness;
they dwell in the Law, are fashioned by the Law; they have the Law as their master, the Law as
their light, the Law as their field of action, the Law as their refuge...
The Law is equal, equal for all beings. For low or middle or high the Law cares nothing. So I
must make my thought like the Law.
The Law has no regard for the pleasant. Impartial is the Law. So I must make my thought like
the Law....
The Law does not seek refuge. The refuge of all the world is the Law. So I must make my
thought like the Law.
The Law has none who can resist it. Irresistible is the Law. So I must make my thought like the
The Law has no preferences. Without preference is the Law. So I must make my thought like the
The Law has no fear of the terrors of birth-and-death, nor is it lured by Nirvana. Ever without
misgiving is the Law. So I must make my thought like the Law.
24. Buddhism. Dharmasangiti Sutra
Qur'an 9.109-10: Cf. Nahjul Balagha, Khutba 21, p. 1062. Sutta Nipata 92: Cf. Diamond Sutra 27, p. 533.
Bhagavad Gita 3.31-32: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 5.24, p. 533. Doctrine of the Mean 2: Cf. I Ching 50, p. 771;
Book of Ritual 7.2.20, p. 467.
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every
mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For no human
being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge
of sin....
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I
should not have known sin. I should not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said,
"You shall not covet." But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, wrought in me all kinds
of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when
the commandment came, sin revived and I died; the very commandment which promised life
proved to be death to me. For sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and by
it killed me.
25. Christianity. Bible, Romans 3.19-20, 7.7-11
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse, for it is written, "Cursed be every one
who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them." Now it is evident
that no man is justified before God by the law; for "He who through faith is righteous shall live";
but the law does not rest on faith, for "He who does them shall live by them." Christ redeemed us
from the curse of the law....
Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not; for if a law had been given which
could make alive, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the scripture consigned all
things to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who
Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should
be revealed. So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by
faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you
are all sons of God, through faith.
26. Christianity. Bible, Galatians 3.10-13, 21-26
Dharmasangiti Sutra: This is one sutra in a large Mahayana collection of sutras called the
Sikshasamuccaya. Romans 3.19-20: The traditional Christian evangelical purpose of the Old Testament
(the Law) is to reveal the high standards of godly behavior, and thereby to show people how sinful they
are, to elicit repentance, and thus to prepare them for the liberating word of the Gospel. But contrast
Matthew 5.17-18, p. 662. Romans 7.7-11: This passage presents the psychological paradox that religious
commandments often incite to sin. Furthermore the law, by making one conscious of moral obligations,
may lead to an oppressive sense of guilt.
Finite and transient are the fruits of sacrificial rites. The deluded, who regard them as the highest
good, remain subject to birth and death.... Attached to works, they know not God. Works lead
them only to heaven, whence, to their sorrow, their rewards quickly exhausted, they are flung
back to earth. Considering religion to be observance of rituals and performance of acts of charity,
the deluded remain ignorant of the highest good. Having enjoyed in heaven the reward of their
good works, they enter again into the world of mortals. But wise, self-controlled, and tranquil
souls, who are contented in spirit, and who practice austerity and meditation in solitude and
silence, are freed from all impurity, and attain by the path of liberation to the immortal, the truly
existing, the changeless Self.
27. Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.7-11
People under delusion accumulate tainted merits but do not tread the Path.
They are under the impression that to accumulate merits and to tread the Path are one and the
same thing.
Though their merits for alms-giving and offerings are infinite.
They do not realize that the ultimate source of sin lies in the three poisons within their own mind.
28. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 6
Galatians 3.10-13: The law becomes oppressive if interpreted in a perfectionistic manner, as though one
could not feel justified unless he kept the law punctiliously to its smallest detail. The grace of God in
Jesus Christ is a free unconditional gift; it is especially liberating to those who regard the law as a burden
which they cannot carry and feel oppressed by guilt for violating it. This of course does not mean that in
Christ one can be licentious; he should live in the Spirit of good works; cf. Galatians 5.19-23, p. 465;
James 2.14-26, p. 1009. Galatians 3.21-26: The argument that 'scripture consigned all things to sin'
refers to the fundamental human condition of Original Sin--cf. Romans 3.9-12, p. 383--which persists
regardless of one's efforts to follow the law. This sinful condition, the 'death' which resulted from
Adam's fall, is only redeemed by faith in Christ, who conquered death; cf. 1 Corinthians 15.21-22, p. 547.
Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.7-11: Good works, done to expiate evil karma produce merit according to the
law of karma, cannot help a person escape the wheel of rebirth. Only through realizing Brahman is there
true liberation. Sutra of Hui Neng 6: Good works done out of a desire to earn a place in heaven are
tainted by selfishness; hence they still produce karma and cannot bring about liberation from bondage.
See the previous note.
On a certain occasion the Exalted One was staying at Uruvela, on the bank of the river Neranjara
at the foot of the Bodhi-tree, having just won the highest wisdom. He was seated for seven days
in one posture and experienced the bliss of release. Then the Exalted One, after the lapse of those
seven days, during the first watch of the night, rousing himself from that concentration of mind,
gave close attention to causal uprising in direct order, thus,
This being, that becomes; by the arising of this, that arises, namely: Conditioned by ignorance, activities;
conditioned by activities, consciousness; conditioned by consciousness, mind and body; conditioned by
mind and body, the six sense-spheres; conditioned by the six sense-spheres, contact; conditioned by
contact, feeling; conditioned by feeling, craving; conditioned by craving, grasping; conditioned by
grasping, becoming; conditioned by becoming, birth; conditioned by birth, old age and death, grief,
lamentation, suffering, sorrow and despair come into being. Thus is the arising of this mass of Ill.
29. Buddhism. Udana 1.1
Actions (karma) resulting from past deeds, productions of causes and conditions, are all unreal
and empty, are not self, are not substantial.
30. Buddhism. Garland Sutra 22
The man of superior virtue is not conscious of his virtue,
And in this way he really possesses virtue.
The man of inferior virtue never loses sight of his virtue,
And in this way he loses his virtue....
Therefore, only when Tao is lost does the doctrine of virtue arise.
When virtue is lost, only then does the doctrine of humanity arise.
When humanity is lost, only then does the doctrine of righteousness arise.
When righteousness is lost, only then arise rules of propriety.
Now, propriety is a superficial expression of loyalty and faithfulness, and the beginning of
31. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 38
Udana 1.1: This is a typical statement of Dependent Origination (Skt. paticcasamuppada). It is a law
which describes the situation of human bondage; cf. Surangama Sutra, p. 387. In that sense it is
comparable to the statements by Paul that 'through the law comes knowledge of sin' (Romans 3.20 p.
163). Yet only by a proper knowledge of ill can ill be overcome, by reversing the chain of causation: 'If
this is not, that does not come to be; from the stopping of this, that is stopped'--Majjhima Nikaya ii.32,
p. 548; cf. Samyutta Nikaya xii.90, pp. 548f. Garland Sutra 22: Mahayana Buddhism teaches that from
the vantage point of enlightenment, when all distinctions of subject and object have been transcended,
the laws of cause and effect and dependent origination are themselves empty and unreal. Concern with
such laws are only provisional teachings--see Mulamadhamaka Karika 24.8-12, pp. 1021f. Heart Sutra,
pp. 589f. Tao Te Ching 38: Laws and doctrines are only needed for people who deviate from t he Tao,
and they are poor substitutes for that ideal of oneness. Cf. Tao Te Ching 2, p. 797, 18-19, p. 294; Chuang
Tzu 13, p. 220.
World Scripture
The moral outlooks of most religions are basically quite similar. Just as the Decalogue, or Ten
Commandments, is the basis of Jewish and Christian ethical values, similar lists of ethical principles may
be found in one form or another in the scriptures of most religions. The Qur'an contains several
passages summarizing proper ethical behavior which have been called Islamic Decalogues. In Buddhism,
Hinduism, and Jainism we find lists of ten charges or ten precepts for monks and lay people, and there
are further condensations into five universal dharmas called samanya dharma. Another comparable list
is found in the Buddhist Eightfold Path.
The first table of the Decalogue contains positive injunctions for right worship to establish a
proper vertical relationship with God, and the second table contains negative injunctions
prohibiting criminal behavior in order to foster horizontal relationships of community. These two
ethical dimensions, the vertical towards the Absolute and the horizontal towards one's neighbor,
are characteristic of such lists in every religion. We may regard the injunctions to renunciation
and meditation in the Buddhist Eightfold Path and in other Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain lists of
dharmas as non-theistic expressions of the vertical dimension. In the horizontal dimension of
law, prohibitions against social crimes such as murder, adultery, and stealing are universal. The
specific offenses will be taken up again individually in Chapter 9.
And God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the
land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven
above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow
down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of
the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but
showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him
guiltless who takes his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but
the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your
son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who
is within your gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in
them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your
God gives you.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his
manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's."
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Exodus 20.1-17: The Ten Commandments
The second five commandments were intended to be paired off with the first five
"You shall not murder" corresponds to "I the Lord am your God." The Holy One said, "If you did
murder, I hold it against you as though you have diminished the image of God."
"You shall not commit adultery" is paired with "You shall have no other gods." God said, "If you
committed adultery, I hold it against you as though you bowed down to another god."
"You shall not steal" is paired with "You shall not swear falsely by the name of the Lord your
God.".... If you steal, you will go on to swear falsely, go on to lie, and end up swearing by My
name falsely.
"You shall not bear false witness" is paired with "Remember the Sabbath day." God said, "If you
bear false witness against your neighbor, I hold it against you as though you bore witness against
Me to the effect that I did not create My world in six days and did not rest on the seventh."
"You shall not covet" is paired with "Honor your father and your mother." Clans like Gaius of
Gadara and Lucius of Susitha would sneak into each other's homes and cohabit with the wives of
the others, the others with the wives of these. In time a quarrel fell out between them, and a man
killed his father, unaware that it was his father.
2. Judaism. Midrash, Pesikta Rabbati
Exodus 20.1-17: These are the Ten Commandments. There is some variation as to how they should be
divided. In the Jewish tradition the verse 'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of
Egypt, the house of bondage' is regarded as the first commandment, but Christians regard it as a
prologue. Most Protestants and Eastern Orthodox Christians reckon 'You shall have no other gods
before me' as the first commandment and the prohibition of images as the second commandment. For
Jews the second commandment includes both 'You shall have no other gods' and the prohibition of
graven images. Lutherans and Roman Catholics likewise regard 'You shall have no other gods' and the
prohibition of graven images as together constituting a single commandment, but reckon it the first
commandment; they then divide the verse against covetousness into two commandments to make up
the ten. See the short enumerations of the Commandments in Psalm 2 4.3-6, p. 229; Hosea 4.1-3, p.
318; Jeremiah 7.1-15, p. 1088.
Say, Come, I will recite what God has made a sacred duty for you:
Ascribe nothing as equal with Him;
Be good to your parents;
Kill not your children on a plea of want--We provide sustenance for you and for them;
Approach not lewd behavior whether open or in secret,
Take not life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law. Thus does He
command you, that you may learn wisdom.
And approach not the property of the orphan, except to improve it, until he attains the age of
Give full measure and weight, in justice--No burden do We place on any soul but that which it
can bear.
And if you give your word, do it justice, even if a near relative is concerned; and fulfill your
obligations before God. Thus does He command you, that you may remember.
Verily, this is My straight Path: follow it, and do not follow other paths which will separate you
from His Path. Thus does He command you, that you may be righteous.
3. Islam. Qur'an 6.151-53
The charge to avoid the taking of life.
The charge to avoid taking what is not given.
The charge to avoid unchastity.
The charge to avoid falsehood.
The charge to avoid fermented liquor, distilled liquor, intoxicants giving rise to sloth.
The charge to avoid unseasonable meals.
The charge to avoid dancing, song, playing music, and seeing shows.
The charge to avoid the use of flowers, scents, and unguents, wearing
ornaments and decorations.
The charge to avoid the use of raised beds, of wide beds.
The charge to avoid the accepting of gold and silver.
4. Buddhism. Khuddaka Patha: The Ten Charges
Pesikta Rabbati: Cf. Tosefta Shebu`ot 3.6, p. 397. Qur'an 6.151-153: See Qur'an 2.177, p. 861; Hadith of
Bukhari and Muslim, p. 491; also Qur'an 17.23-38.
Contentment, forgiveness, self-control, not appropriating anything unrighteously, purification,
coercion of the organs, wisdom, knowledge of the Supreme, truthfulness, and abstention from
anger: these constitute the tenfold law [for ascetics].
5. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 6.92
Forgiveness, humility, straightforwardness, purity, truthfulness, self-restraint, austerity,
renunciation, non-attachment and chastity [with one's spouse] are the ten duties [of lay people].
6. Jainism. Tatthvarthasutra 9.6
Not killing, no longer stealing, forsaking the wives of others, refraining completely from false,
divisive, harsh and senseless speech, forsaking covetousness, harmful intent and the views of
Nihilists--these are the ten white paths of action, their opposites are black.
7. Buddhism. Nagarjuna, Precious Garland 8-9
The first great vow, Sir, runs thus, I renounce all killing of living beings, whether subtle or gross,
whether movable or immovable. Nor shall I myself kill living beings [nor cause others to do it,
nor consent to it]. As long as I live, I confess and blame, repent and exempt myself of these sins,
in the thrice threefold way [i.e., acting, commanding, or consenting, either in the past, present, or
future], in mind, speech, and body. There are five clauses...
The second great vow, Sir, runs thus, I renounce all vices of lying speech arising from anger or
greed or fear or mirth. I shall neither myself speak lies, nor cause others to speak lies, nor
consent to the speaking of lies by others. I confess... There are five clauses....
The third great vow, Sir, runs thus: I renounce all taking of anything not given, either in a village
or a town or a wood, either of little or much, of small or great, of living or lifeless things. I shall
neither take myself what is not given, nor cause others to take it, nor consent to their taking it. As
long as I live, I confess... There are five clauses....
The fourth great vow, Sir, runs thus, I renounce all sexual pleasures, either with gods or men or
animals. I shall not give way to sensuality, nor cause others to give way to it, nor consent to their
giving way to it. As long as I live, I confess... There are five clauses....
The fifth great vow, Sir, runs thus, I renounce all attachments, whether little or much, small or
great, living or lifeless; neither shall I myself form such attachments, nor cause others to do so,
nor consent to their doing so. As long as I live, I confess... There are five clauses....
He who is well provided with these great vows and their twenty-five clauses is really homeless if
he, according to the sacred teaching, the precepts and the way, correctly practices, follows,
executes, explains, establishes and, according to the precept, effects them.
8. Jainism. Acarangasutra 2.15
Khuddaka Patha: These are the rules of training observed by the monks, with the third charge modified
as a concession to lay people (a monk would of course take a vow of celibacy). Lay people ordinarily
observe the first five charges. Cf. Dhammapada 246-47, p. 463. Khuddaka Patha, Laws of Manu 6.92,
Tatthvarthasutra 9.6 and Precious Garland 8-9: The tradition of ten precepts runs through Hinduism,
Buddhism, and Jainism, though elements in the list may vary.
Nonviolence, truthfulness, not stealing, purity, control of the senses--this, in brief, says Manu, is
the Dharma for all the four castes.
9. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 10.63
Laws of Manu 10.63: This list of universally applicable dharma for all castes and stages of life is called
sadharan or samanya dharma. It is the universal foundation upon which are erected the specific
dharmas which differentiate the castes. It is a least common denominator by which Hindu society, for all
its variety of castes, roles, and traditions, maintains an ethical consensus. Cf. Chandogya Upanishad
5.10.9, p. 463.
The Noble Truth of the Path leading to the cessation of suffering is this Noble Eightfold Path,
namely: right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right
mindfulness, right concentration.
What is right view? Knowledge of suffering, knowledge of the arising of suffering, knowledge of
the cessation of suffering, knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of suffering--this is
called right view.
What is right aspiration? Aspiration for renunciation, aspiration for non-malevolence, aspiration
for harmlessness--this is called right aspiration.
What is right speech? Refraining from lying speech, refraining from slanderous speech,
refraining from harsh speech, refraining from gossip--this is called right speech.
What is right action? Refraining from violence against creatures, refraining from taking what has
not been given, refraining from going wrongly among the sense-pleasures, this is called right
What is right livelihood? A disciple of the Noble Ones, getting rid of a wrong mode of
livelihood, makes his living by a right mode of livelihood. This is called right livelihood.
What is right effort? A monk generates desire, effort, stirs up energy, exerts his mind and strives
for the non-arising of evil unskilled states that have not arisen... for the getting rid of evil
unskilled states that have arisen... for the arising of skilled states that have not arisen... for the
maintenance and completion of skilled states that have arisen. This is called right effort.
What is right mindfulness? A monk fares along contemplating the body in the body... the
feelings in the feelings... the mind in the mind... the mental states in the mental states... ardent,
clearly conscious of them, mindful of them so as to control the covetousness and dejection in the
world. This is called right mindfulness.
And what is right concentration? A monk, aloof from the pleasures of the senses, aloof from
unskilled states of mind, enters on and abides in the first meditation which is accompanied by
initial thought and discursive thought, is born of aloofness, is rapturous and joyful. By allaying
initial thought and discursive thought, with the mind subjectively tranquilized and fixed on one
point, he enters on and abides in the second meditation which is devoid of initial thought and
discursive thought, is born of concentration, and is rapturous and joyful. By the fading out of
rapture... he enters on and abides in the third meditation... the fourth meditation. This is called
right concentration.
10. Buddhism. Majjhima Nikaya iii.251-52, Saccavibhangasutta
Majjhima Nikaya iii.251-52: This is a complete statement of the Noble Eightfold Path.
World Scripture
The Golden Rule or the ethic of reciprocity is found in the scriptures of nearly every religion. It is often
regarded as the most concise and general principle of ethics. It is a condensation in one principle of all
longer lists of ordinances such as the Decalogue. See also texts on Loving Kindness, pp. 967-73.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Leviticus 19.18
Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.
2. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 7.12
Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.
3. Islam. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 13
A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.
4. Jainism. Sutrakritanga 1.11.33
Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this
is the shortest way to benevolence.
5. Confucianism. Mencius VII.A.4
One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the
essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire.
6. Hinduism. Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 113.8
Tsekung asked, "Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?" Confucius
replied, "It is the word shu--reciprocity: Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to
7. Confucianism. Analects 15.23
Leviticus 19.18: Quoted by Jesus in Matthew 22.36-40 (below). Mencius VII.A.4 and Analects 15.23: Cf.
Analects 6.28.2, p. 975.
Comparing oneself to others in such terms as "Just as I am so are they, just as they are so am I,"
he should neither kill nor cause others to kill.
8. Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 705
One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it
9. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)
One who you think should be hit is none else but you. One who you think should be governed is
none else but you. One who you think should be tortured is none else but you. One who you
think should be enslaved is none else but you. One who you think should be killed is none else
but you. A sage is ingenuous and leads his life after comprehending the parity of the killed and
the killer. Therefore, neither does he cause violence to others nor does he make others do so.
10. Jainism. Acarangasutra 5.101-2
The Ariyan disciple thus reflects, Here am I, fond of my life, not wanting to die, fond of pleasure
and averse from pain. Suppose someone should rob me of my life... it would not be a thing
pleasing and delightful to me. If I, in my turn, should rob of his life one fond of his life, not
wanting to die, one fond of pleasure and averse from pain, it would not be a thing pleasing or
delightful to him. For a state that is not pleasant or delightful to me must also be to him also; and
a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?
As a result of such reflection he himself abstains from taking the life of creatures and he
encourages others so to abstain, and speaks in praise of so abstaining.
11. Buddhism. Samyutta Nikaya v.353
A certain heathen came to Shammai and said to him, "Make me a proselyte, on condition that
you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Thereupon he repulsed him with the
rod which was in his hand. When he went to Hillel, he said to him, "What is hateful to you, do
not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; all the rest of it is commentary; go and learn."
12. Judaism. Talmud, Shabbat 31a
Sutta Nipata 705: Cf. Dhammapada 129-130, p. 478. Acarangasutra 5.101-2: Cf. Dhammapada 129-130,
p. 478. Samyutta Nikaya v.353: The passage gives a similar reflection about abstaining from other types
of immoral behavior: theft, adultery, etc. To identify oneself with others is also a corollary to the
Mahayana insight that all reality is interdependent and mutually related; cf. Guide to a Bodhisattva's
Way of Life 8.112-16, p. 181; Majjhima Nikaya i.415, p. 465.
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "You shall love the
Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the
great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."
13. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 22.36-40
Matthew 22.36-40: Cf. Deuteronomy 6.4-9, p. 55; Leviticus 19.18, p. 173; Luke 10.25-37, p. 971;
Galatians 6.2, p. 974; Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 5.2.2, p. 972; Sun Myung Moon, 9-30-79, p. 150.
World Scripture
A result of the transcendent law at work in the creation and sustenance of the cosmos is that the
cosmos evidences order, regularity, and mutuality. All existences, great and small, are linked in a web of
interdependent relationships. Every relationship has a certain polarity and a certain order, and there is
dynamic, mutual movement, and exchange between male and female, heaven and earth, mind and
matter, subject and object, light and dark, being and non-being, this and that, myself and the other. The
movement within and between beings in relationship is the source of generation and creative power.
This motion is seen in the regular cycles of nature, the changing seasons. It is sometimes mythically
represented by the cosmic union of god and goddess, of male and female principles.
In addition, interdependence is the basis for teachings which deny egoism and acquisitiveness
while encouraging compassion and reciprocity. The Buddhist and Taoist understandings of
causality link all beings into an interdependent whole of which the individual is but one part, and
this is the basis for the attitude of no-self and the ethic of compassion. Each person is his
neighbor; any distinction between myself as subject and the other as object is illusory.
The Great Primal Beginning (t'ai chi) generates the two primary forces [yang and yin]. The two
primary forces generate...the great field of action.
1. Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.11.5-6
And of everything created We two kinds; haply you will remember.
2. Islam. Qur'an 51.49
Beauty arises from the fusion of extremes into a harmonious oneness.
3. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon 9-11-79
All things are twofold, one opposite the other,
and he has made nothing incomplete.
One confirms the good things of the other,
and who can have enough of beholding his glory?
4. Christianity. Sirach 42.24-25
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he
created them.
5. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Genesis 1.27
The Originator of the heavens and the earth; He has appointed for you of yourselves spouses, and
pairs also of the cattle, by means of which He multiplies you.
6. Islam. Qur'an 42.11
All life, all pulsation in creation throbs with the mighty declaration of the biune truth of ShivaShakti, the eternal He and the eternal She at play in manifestation.
7. Hinduism. Kularnava Tantra 3
The creator, out of desire to procreate, devoted himself to concentrated ardor (tapas). Whilst thus
devoted to concentrated ardor, he produced a couple, Matter and Life (prana), saying to himself,
"these two will produce all manner of creatures for me." Now Life is the Sun; Matter is the
8. Hinduism. Prasna Upanishad 1.4-5
The Master said, "Heaven and earth come together, and all things take shape and find form. Male
and female mix their seed, and all creatures take shape and are born." In the Changes it is said,
"When three people journey together, their number decreases by one. When one man journeys
alone, he finds a companion."
9. Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 2.4.13
Sun Myung Moon 9-11-79: Cf. Book of Ritual 19, p. 325. Kularnava Tantra 3: In the Tantra this defines a
Mantra 'Ham-sa,' identified with the breath, inhaling and exhaling. Prasna Upanishad 1.4-5: Tradition
has speculated on the fact that Matter (rayi) is feminine and prana, that is Life or energy, is masculine.
This is another expression of the polarity of Purusha and prakriti, or Shiva and Shakti. Cf. Brihadaranyaka
Upanishad 1.4.3, p. 252; Rig Veda 10.129, p. 130; 10.190.1-3, p. 150; Bhagavad Gita. 13.19-26, p. 178;
Shiva Purana, p. 179. I Ching, Great Commentary 2.4.13: Cf. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.4.1-4, p. 324.
Observe how all God's creations borrow from each other: day borrows from night and night from
day, but they do not go to law one with another as mortals do.... The moon borrows from the
stars and the stars from the moon... the sky borrows from the earth and the earth from the sky....
All God's creatures borrow from the other, yet make peace with one another without lawsuits;
but if man borrows from his friend, he seeks to swallow him up with usury and robbery.
10. Judaism. Midrash, Exodus Rabbah 31.15
When the sun goes, the moon comes; when the moon goes, the sun comes. Sun and moon
alternate; thus light comes into existence. When cold goes, heat comes; when heat goes, cold
comes. Cold and heat alternate, and thus the year completes itself. The past contracts. The future
expands. Contraction and expansion act upon each other; hereby arises that which furthers.
The measuring worm draws itself together when it wants to stretch out. Dragons and snakes
hibernate in order to preserve life. Thus the penetration of germinal thought into the mind
promotes the workings of the mind. When this working furthers and brings peace to life, it
elevates a man's nature.
11. Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 2.5.2-3
Which of these two came earlier, which came later?
How did they come to birth? Who, O Seers, can discern it?
They contain within them all that has a name,
while days and nights revolve as on a wheel.
You two, though motionless and footless, nurture
a varied offspring having feet and movement.
Like parents clasping children to their bosoms,
O Heaven and Earth, deliver us from evil!
These twin maidens (day and night), like two friendly sisters
nestled close together, rest in their parents' bosom
and kiss together the center of the world.
O Heaven and Earth, deliver us from evil!
12. Hinduism. Rig Veda 1.185.1,2,5
I Ching, Great Commentary 2.5.2-3: The philosophy of the I Ching emphasizes the constant dynamic
interchange of yang and yin. Every action engenders its opposite. One who wishes to prosper should
understand the principles of change and use them to his advantage; cf. Chuang Tzu 22, p. 550 and 27, p.
153. Hence the example: he who wishes to create and expand must first look within and concentrate the
self--cf. Chuang Tzu 12, p. 589. Exodus Rabbah 31.15: Cf. Isaiah 1.2-3, p. 456.
Heaven is high, the earth is low; thus the Creative and the Receptive are determined. In
correspondence with this difference between low and high, inferior and superior places are
Movement and rest have their definite laws; according to these, firm and yielding lines [of the
hexagrams] are differentiated.
Events follow definite trends, each according to its nature. Things are distinguished from one
another in definite classes. In this way good fortune and misfortune come about. In the heavens
phenomena take form; on earth shapes take form. In this way change and transformation become
Therefore the eight trigrams succeed one another by turns, as the firm and the yielding displace
each other.
Things are aroused by thunder and lightning; they are fertilized by wind and rain. Sun and moon
follow their courses and it is now hot, now cold.
The way of the Creative brings about the male.
The way of the Receptive brings about the female.
The Creative knows the great beginnings.
The Receptive completes the finished things.
13. Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.1.1-5
Know that prakriti (nature, energy) and Purusha (spirit) are both without beginning, and that
from prakriti come the gunas (qualities of the phenomenal world) and all that changes. Prakriti is
the agent, cause, and effect of every action, but it is Purusha that seems to experience pleasure
and pain. Purusha, resting in prakriti, witnesses the play of the gunas born of prakriti. But
attachment to the gunas leads a person to be born for good or evil. Within the body the supreme
Purusha is called the witness, approver, supporter, enjoyer, the supreme Lord, the highest Self...
Whatever exists, Arjuna, animate or inanimate, is born through the union of the field and its
14. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 13.19-22, 26
I Ching, Great Commentary 1.1.1-5: The philosophy of Change finds its concrete form in the system of
divination of the I Ching, with its 64 hexagrams, each composed of two trigrams. Each of the six lines of
the hexagram may be either yang or yin, firm or yielding. Because these lines change into each other
according to rule: firm yang becoming yielding yin, firm yin becoming yielding yang, the hexagrams
denote a fortune that is dynamic and has various potentials for change. This passage is a commentary on
two paradigmatic hexagrams: the Creative (ch'ien) is composed of all six yang lines and the Receptive
(k'un) is composed of all six yin lines. Bhagavad Gita 13.19-22, 26: The cosmos is formed by the polarity
of Purusha--mind, consciousness, divinity--and prakriti--matter, energy, the world of nature. However, in
monistic Vedanta, the duality of Purusha and prakriti is not at all benign or supportive of enlightenment,
it is rather a fetter to be transcended. Cf. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.1-3, p. 387.
The original Being without a second, with neither beginning nor end... the Supreme Brahman,
the all-pervasive and undecaying, vanished. The manifest form of that formless Being is Shiva.
Scholars of the ancient and succeeding ages have sung of it as Ishvara.
Ishvara, though alone, then created the physical form Shakti from his body. This Shakti did not
affect his body in any way.
Shakti is called by various names: Pradhana, Prakriti, Maya, Gunavati, Para. She is the mother of
Cosmic Intelligence, without modification. That Shakti is Matter-energy (prakriti), the goddess
of all and the prime cause and mother of the three gunas....
The supreme Purusha is Shiva. He has no other lord over Him.... In the form of Time (Kala)
together with Shakti, they simultaneously created the holy center called Shivaloka. It is the seat
of salvation shining over and above everything. The holy center is of the nature of supreme Bliss
inasmuch as the primordial lovers, supremely blissful, made the beautiful holy center their
perpetual abode.
15. Hinduism. Shiva Purana, Rudrasamhita I.16
The deities Izanagi and Izanami descended from Heaven to the island Ono-goro and erected a
heavenly pillar and a spacious palace.... "Let us, you and me, walk in a circle around this
heavenly pillar and meet and have conjugal intercourse," said Izanagi. "You walk around from
the right, and I will walk around from the left and meet you."... They united and gave birth to
children, [the eight islands of Japan].
16. Shinto. Kojiki 4-6
In space
is the triangle;
here meditate.
Thence the circles
in right order,
and the divine forms
appearing in due order..
In the lotus
lies knowledge;
here is union
Thence bliss
which is bodhicitta
and is thought of enlightenment
Therefore the Innate is twofold, for Wisdom is the woman and Means is the man. Thereafter
these both become twofold, distinguished as absolute and relative. In man there is this twofold
nature: the thought of enlightenment [relative] and the bliss arising from it [absolute]; in woman
too it is the same, the thought of enlightenment and the bliss arising from it.
17. Buddhism. Hevajra Tantra 8.26-29
Kojiki 4-6: In Shinto, the deities Izanagi and Izanami correspond to the male and female principles. The
union of opposites is seen as the source of life, divine and human. However, the deities at first erred in
this ritual; the complete text is given on p. 431. Hevajra Tantra 8.26-29: This Tantric text advocates the
attainment of enlightenment by the union of Wisdom (prajna) and Means (upaya), the female and male
principles. The first column describes the Means, a meditation surrounded by certain geometric
symbols, and the second column describes the unfolding of Wisdom.
When ones accumulate to become ten, it becomes a complete being. Heaven is three because
positivity and negativity harmonize to produce the neutral. Earth is three because positivity and
negativity come together to produce the one. Man is three because man and woman come
together to produce the one. The three poles are added together to form six. The processes of life
are manifested through the seven, eight, and nine.
The Ultimate One achieves the four by the movement of the three [poles]. The five becomes the
seven by a circular movement, and then returns to the One as life flows on mysteriously.
Although myriads of things come out from the One, flow, are used, and change, the root is
always present in all movement coming and going. It lies in man to highly brighten the core of
his mind like the sun.
Heaven is one, earth is one, and they move as one body. The end of a finite being is a return to
the endless; the beginning and the end are one.
18. Korean Religions: Chun Boo Kyung
Chun Boo Kyung: This cryptic text plays with numbers one to ten but never explains what these numbers
mean, leaving much to interpretation. Many see the Chun Boo Kyung as setting forth a theory of
generation, movement, and return. The theory of generation states that the three poles, interpreted as
mind, life, and energy, or positive, negative, and neutral (see Chun Boo Kyung, p. 95), are generated
through the harmony of subject and object. This generates the power of growth through nine stages to
maturity, the tenth stage. The theory of movement describes a circular or spherical motion of the three
poles centered on the Ultimate One, thus creating a unified body of four positions. It is said that man
should similarly brighten his mind by centering on the Ultimate and participating in this movement.
Finally, the theory of return affirms that all things return to their origin and continually change into new
forms of existence.
Thirty spokes share one hub to make a wheel.
Through its not-being (wu),
There being (yu) the use of the carriage.
Mold clay into a vessel.
Through its not-being,
There being the use of the vessel.
Cut out doors and windows to make a house.
Through its not-being
There being the use of the house.
Therefore in the being of a thing,
There lies the benefit;
In the not-being of a thing,
There lies its use.
19. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 11
Every existence has both internal character [mind] and external form [body]; accordingly, its
purpose is two-fold. One purpose pertains to internal character and the other to external form.
The purpose pertaining to internal character is for the whole, while the purpose pertaining to
external form is for the individual. These relate to each other as cause and effect, internal and
external, and subject and object. Therefore, there cannot be any purpose of the individual apart
from the purpose of the whole, nor any purpose of the whole that does not include the purpose of
the individual. All the creatures in the entire universe form a vast complex linked together by
these dual purposes.
20. Unification Church. Divine Principle I.1.3.1
This world of men, given over to the idea of "I am the agent," bound up with the idea "another is
the agent," understand not truly this thing; they have not seen it as a thorn. For one who looks at
this thorn with caution, the idea "I am the agent" exists not, the idea "another is the agent" exists
21. Buddhism. Udana 70
Tao Te Ching 11: The usefulness of the wheel, the vessel, and the house is through the empty space, or
'non-being,' contained in them. Utility comes through the reversive process of coming to be and ceasing
to be, making a complete circuit of the Tao. Divine Principle I.1.3.1: The mind or 'internal character' of
human beings is the original mind that pursues transcendent values, ideals, and love. Thus it most
essentially relates with beings beyond itself. The body is concerned with gratification of sense-desires
and survival. The relationship between them suggested here gives priority to the whole purpose of the
'internal character,' while the individual purpose of the 'external form' is in a supporting role. This
interdependent complex linked together by purpose--compare 1 Corinthians 12.12-27, p. 276--is
descriptive of nature, which follows God's principle, but prescriptive for humans, who often have their
priorities upside-down.
We are members one of another.
22. Christianity. Bible, Ephesians 4.25
Why should I be unable
To regard the bodies of others as "I"?
It is not difficult to see
That my body is also that of others.
In the same way as the hands and so forth
Are regarded as limbs of the body,
Likewise why are embodied creatures
Not regarded as limbs of life?
Only through acquaintance has the thought of "I" arisen
Towards this impersonal body;
So in a similar way, why should it not arise
Towards other living beings?
When I work in this way for the sake of others,
I should not let conceit or [the feeling that I am] wonderful arise.
It is just like feeding myself-I hope for nothing in return.
23. Buddhism. Shantideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life 8.112-16
Everything has its "that," everything has its "this." From the point of view of "that" you cannot
see it, but through understanding you can know it. So I say, "that" comes out of "this" and "this"
depends on "that"--which is to say that "this" and "that" give birth to each other. But where there
is birth there must be death; where there is death there must be birth. Where there is acceptability
there must be unacceptability; where there is unacceptability there must be acceptability. Where
there is recognition of right there must be recognition of wrong; where there is recognition of
wrong there must be recognition of right. Therefore the sage does not proceed in such a way, but
illuminates all in the light of Heaven. He too recognizes a "this", but a "this" which is also "that";
a "that" that is also "this". His "that" has both a right and a wrong in it; his "this" too has both a
right and a wrong in it. So, in fact, does he still have a "this" and "that"? Or does he in fact no
longer have a "this" and "that"? A state in which "this" and "that" no longer find their opposites
is called the Hinge of the Way. When the hinge is fitted into the socket, it can respond endlessly.
24. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 2
The doing away with the notion of cause and condition, the giving up of a causal agency, the
establishment of the Mind-only--this I state to be no-birth.
The getting-rid of the idea that things are caused, the removal of the dualism of imagined and
imagining, the being liberated from the alternatives of being and non-being--this I state to be nobirth.
No external [separate] existence, no non-existence, not even the grasping of mind; things are like
a dream, a hair-net, Maya, a mirage... this is what characterizes no-birth.
It is only in accordance with general convention that a chain of mutual dependence is talked of;
birth has no sense when the chain of dependence is severed.
If [someone holds that] there is anything born somewhere apart from concatenation [the chain of
mutual relations], he is one who is to be recognized as an advocate of no-causation as he destroys
If concatenation worked [from outside] like a lamp revealing all kinds of things, this means the
presence of something outside concatenation itself.
All things are devoid of self-nature [separate existence], have never been born, and in their
original nature are [transparent] like the sky; things separated from concatenation belong to the
discrimination of the ignorant.
When this entire world is regarded as concatenation, as nothing else but concatenation, then the
mind gains tranquillity.
25. Buddhism. Lankavatara Sutra 78
Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life 8.112-16: Vv. 112, 114-16. Cf. Samyutta Nikaya v.353, p. 173;
Dhammapada 129-30, p. 478; Acarangasutra 5.101-02, p. 173. Chuang Tzu 2: The Taoist ideal is to
transcend all distinctions of 'this' and 'that' and live in the free motion of the Tao, in which all things rise
and fall, develop and revert to their origin. Cf. Tao Te Ching 2, p. 801; Chuang Tzu 2, p. 67, 7, p. 588. This
ideal has resemblances to the satori of Zen; cf. Diamond Sutra 22-23, p. 588; Seng Ts'an, pp. 221ff.
Lankavatara Sutra 78: All things are interdependent, mutually influencing one another through cause
and effect, and hence bound to the realm of birth, suffering, and death. This concatenation must also
include the observer; it is an illusion to think that there could exist a separate ego that can stand outside
of it. But Buddhist insight can allow one to see the transcendent reality of no-birth, which is established
in the mind when it rests in the state of Nirvana. Then discrimination of dualism ceases. Cf. Seng Ts'an,
pp. 221ff; Heart Sutra, pp. 589-90; Mulamadhyamaka Karika 25, pp. 91f; and the traditional statement
of dependent origination: Samyutta Nikaya xxii.90, pp. 548f.
World Scripture
In this section we treat the principle of cosmic justice and the law of cause and effect. The maxim that a
person reaps what he has sown, the doctrine of karma, and belief in divine retribution are different
expressions of a common principle that the world is governed by justice. This section does not
distinguish the specific manner in which justice will be vindicated; e.g., through one's fate in this life,
through reincarnation into a being of a different status, or through one's fate in the afterlife. For the
latter, regarding beliefs about heaven and hell, see Chapter 6.
The principle of justice bears the same ambiguous relationship to Ultimate Reality as does divine
Law generally. In Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, and African traditional religions it is
God who executes judgment to maintain justice, while in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism the
principle of justice is inherent in the fabric of the cosmos and is distinguished from and
subordinate to the ultimate goal of Liberation. In Chinese religion there is both an impersonal
Tao or Heaven which gives recompense according to principle and Taoist deities who execute
More will be said in later chapters about the doctrine of karma, particularly the accumulated
Karma and Inherited Sin, pp. 694-702, as they impinge on the present. Karma may function to
explain a person's life circumstances by attributing them to conditions created in past lives; in
that sense the doctrine of karma functions analogously to the doctrine of predestination in theistic
religions. Yet the Buddhist scriptures caution against interpreting karma as a deterministic
principle, and Hindu texts recognize that it can be blotted out through grace.1 [1See p. 695].
This collection of texts begins with passages on the principle of cause and effect, on justice as
inherent to the nature of life. The next group of passages deals with the problem of the frequent
delay between actions and the ripening of their fruits. The scriptures affirm that regardless of the
delay, recompense is inescapable, sometimes describing it through the metaphor of Heaven's net.
One solution to this problem is that recompense occurs in another life; here we offer several
fundamental texts on karma, the impersonal law by which the deserts of one's deeds are reaped in
the next incarnation. The next group of passages gives another solution, which is to envision that
sure recompense comes only at the Last Judgment. The final group of passages depicts God, or
his angels, as personally deciding and enforcing the judgment for one's deeds.
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
1. Christianity. Bible, Galatians 6.7
Suffering is the offspring of violence--realize this and be ever vigilant.
2. Jainism. Acarangasutra 3.13
Whatever affliction may visit you is for what your own hands have earned.
3. Islam. Qur'an 42.30
Our body in Kali Yuga is a field of action:
As a man sows, so is his reward.
Nothing by empty talk is determined:
Anyone swallowing poison must die.
Brother! behold the Creator's justice:
As are a man's actions, so is his recompense.
4. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri Var, M.4, p. 308
Galatians 6.7: Cf. Ezekiel 18.1-30, pp. 681f. Qur'an 42.30: Cf. Qur'an 53.36-42, p. 681. Gauri Var, M.4: Cf.
Maitri Upanishad 4.2, p. 696.
All who take the sword will perish by the sword.
5. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 26.52
Those who wrongfully kill men are only putting their weapons into the hands of others who will
in turn kill them.
6. Taoism. Treatise on Response and Retribution 5
Ashes fly back in the face of him who throws them.
7. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)
For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.
8. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Hosea 8.7
An ignorant man committing evil deeds does not realize the consequences. The imprudent man is
consumed by his own deeds, like one burnt by fire.
9. Buddhism. Dhammapada 136
Men who acquire wealth by evil deeds, by adhering to principles which are wrong, fall into the
trap of their own passions and fettered with karma they sink further down.
10. Jainism. Uttaradhyayana Sutra 4.2
A man who has committed one of the deadly sins will never again, until his death, lose the
thought of that action; he cannot get rid of it or remove it, but it follows after him until the time
of his death.
11. Buddhism. Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 17.3
I have acted, I have caused others to act, and I have approved of others' actions. One should first
comprehend that all such actions taking place in the world are the cause of the influx of karma
particles, and then should forswear them.
12. Jainism. Acarangasutra 1.6-7
Unrighteousness, practiced in this world, does not at once produce its fruit; but, like a cow,
advancing slowly, it cuts off the roots of him who committed it.
13. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 4.172
Dhammapada 136: Cf. Dhammapada 131-132, p. 478. Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines
17.3: The 'deadly sins' in Buddhism are specifically: (1) to kill one's mother; (2) to kill one's father; (3) to
kill an arhat; (4) to cause schism in the Order; and (5) to harm the body of a Buddha.
Even if they attain to sovereignty, the wicked, engaged in cruel deeds, condemned by all men, do
not enjoy it long, but fall like trees whose roots have been severed. O dweller in darkness, as in
its proper season the tree puts forth its flowers, so in the course of time evil actions produce
bitter fruit.
14. Hinduism. Ramayana, Aranya Kanda 29
Good fortune and misfortune take effect through perseverance. The tao of heaven and earth
becomes visible through perseverance. The tao of sun and moon becomes bright through
perseverance. All movements under heaven become uniform through perseverance.
15. Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 2.1.5
As sweet as honey is an evil deed, so thinks the fool so long as it ripens not; but when it ripens,
then he comes to grief.
Verily, an evil deed committed does not immediately bear fruit, just as milk does not curdle at
once; but like a smoldering fire covered with ashes, it remains with the fool until the moment it
ignites and burns him.
16. Buddhism. Dhammapada 69, 71
Let not their conduct grieve you, who run easily to disbelief, for lo! they injure God not at all. It
is God's will to assign them no portion in the hereafter, and theirs will be an awful doom....
And let not those who disbelieve imagine that the rein We give them bodes good for their souls.
We only give them rein that they may grow in sinfulness. And theirs will be a shameful doom.
17. Islam. Qur'an 3.176, 178
Then I saw the wicked buried; they used to go in and out of the holy place, and were praised in
the city where they had done such things. Because sentence against an evil deed is not executed
speedily, the heart of the sons of men is fully set to do evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred
times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they
fear before him.
18. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Ecclesiastes 8.10-12
The net of Heaven is cast wide. Though the mesh is not fine, yet nothing ever slips through.
19. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 73
Qur'an 3.176, 178: Cf. Qur'an 4.92, p. 477 and 14.42-51, p. 1100; also 2 Peter 3.10, p. 1099, where the
reason for God's slowness is divine forbearance that the wicked might have a chance to repent.
Ecclesiastes 8.10-12: Cf. Yoruba Song, p. 111.
Further, as Heaven and Earth are the greatest of things, it is natural, from the point of view of
universal principles, that they have spiritual power. Having spiritual power it is proper that they
reward good and punish evil. Nevertheless their expanse is great and their net is wide-meshed.
There is not necessarily an immediate response as soon as this net is set in operation.
20. Taoism. Pao-p'u Tzu
Everything is given on pledge, and a net is spread for all the living; the shop is open; and the
dealer gives credit; and the ledger lies open; and the hand writes; and whosoever wishes to
borrow may come and borrow; but the collectors regularly make their daily round, and exact
payment from man whether he be content or not; and they have that whereon they can rely in
their demand; and the judgment is a judgment of truth; and everything is prepared for the feast
21. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 3.20
Not in the sky, nor in mid-ocean, nor in a mountain cave, is found that place on earth where
abiding one may escape from the consequences of one's evil deed.
22. Buddhism. Dhammapada 127
Though they dig into Sheol,
from there shall my hand take them;
though they climb up to heaven,
from there I will bring them down.
Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,
from there I will search out and take them;
and though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea,
there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them.
And though they go into captivity before their enemies,
there I will command the sword, and it shall slay them;
and I will set my eyes upon them for evil and not for good.
23. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Amos 9.2-4
According as one acts, according as one conducts himself, so does he become. The doer of good
becomes good. The doer of evil becomes evil. One becomes virtuous by virtuous action, bad by
bad action.
But people say, "A person is made [not of acts, but] of desires only." [I say,] as his desire, such is
his resolve; as is his resolve, such the action he performs; what action he performs, that he
procures for himself.
On this point there is this verse,
Where one's mind is attached--the inner self
Goes thereto with action, being attached to it alone.
Obtaining the end of his action,
Whatever he does in this world,
He comes again from that world
To this world of action.
So the mind who desires.
24. Hinduism. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.5-6
Pao-p'u Tzu: Written by Ko Hung (253-333), the Pao-p'u Tzu is among the most important classics of
religious Taoism. It expounds belief in the Taoist Immortals, the doctrine of retribution, and the use of
alchemical means to prolong life. Abot 3.20: The image of the ledger is a frequent one; cf. Abot 4.29, p.
346; Qur'an 17.13-14, 39.68-75, 50.17-19, pp. 345-48; 69.13-37, pp. 1098f.; Revelation 20.11-12, p. 346;
Ramkali-ki-Var, M.1, p. 299. Amos 9.2-4: Cf. Qur'an 2.115, Atharva Veda 4.16, p. 111.
Action, which springs from the mind, from speech, and from the body, produces either good or
evil results; by action are caused the conditions of men, the highest, the middling, and the lowest.
A man obtains the result of a good or evil mental act in his mind; that of a verbal act in his
speech; that of a bodily act in his body.
In consequence of sinful acts committed with his body, a man becomes in the next birth an
inanimate thing; in consequence of sins committed by speech, he becomes a bird or a beast; in
consequence of mental sins he is reborn in a low caste.
25. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 12.3,8,9
According to what deeds are done
Do their resulting consequences come to be;
Yet the doer has no existence:
This is the Buddha's teaching.
Like a clear mirror,
According to what comes before it,
Reflecting forms, each different,
So is the nature of actions.
26. Buddhism. Garland Sutra 10
As you plan for somebody so God plans for you.
27. African Traditional Religions. Igbo Proverb (Nigeria)
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.5-6: This classic text describes the principle by which karma determines
the site of reincarnation. Cf. Vedanta Sutra 1.2.1, p. 338; Svetasvatara Upanishad 5.11-12, p. 696. Laws
of Manu 12.1-9: Cf. Vedanta Sutra 1.2.1, p. 338; Maitri Upanishad 4.2, p. 696. Garland Sutra 10: This
passage reconciles karma and voidness. A person is subject to karma only as long as he dwells in the
illusion that he exists as a self. Intrinsically empty of self, a person is like a clear mirror whose purity is
not affected by the reflections that impinge upon it. Thus the person who courses in enlightenment will
not accumulate new karma, though he may still have to work out the effects of past deeds. Cf. Majjhima
Nikaya i.389-90, p. 345 and Anguttara Nikaya iii.33, p. 697.
All creatures on their actions are judged In God's court, just and true.
28. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 34, p. 7
God is not hornless;
He is horned:
He exacts punishment for every deed.
29. African Traditional Religions. Ovambo Proverb (Angola)
I the Lord search the mind
and try the heart,
to give to every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his doings.
30. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Jeremiah 17.10
Whoever vows to tyrannize over the humble and the meek,
The Supreme Lord burns him in flames.
The Creator dispenses perfect justice
And preserves His devotee.
31. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri, M.5, p. 199
To God belongs all that is in the heavens and on the earth; and whether you make known what is
in your minds or hide it, God will bring you to account for it. He will forgive whom He will and
He will punish whom He will. God is able to do all things.
32. Islam. Qur'an 2.284
Never mind if the people are not intimidated by your [correct] authority. A mightier Authority
will deal with them in the end.
33. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 72
For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay
every man for what he has done.
34. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 16.27
Ovambo Proverb: Cf. Yoruba Song, p. 701; Igbo Consecration, p. 769. Jeremiah 17.10: Cf. Hebrews 4.1213, p. 110. Qur'an 2.284: Cf. Qur'an 14.38, p. 109. God's attributes of justice and mercy are often in
seeming contradiction; see Abot 3.19, p. 687; Rig Veda 7.86.1-4, p. 904. Matthew 16.27: Cf. Matthew
25.31-46, p. 990; 13.47-50, p. 1097.
Holy, then, did I recognize Thee, O Wise Lord.
I perceived Thee foremost at the birth of life,
When Thou didst endow acts and words with retribution:
Bad unto bad, good blessing unto holy,
Through Thy wisdom, at the final goal of life!
35. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 43.5
Even if the wrong-doers had all that there is on earth, and as much more, in vain would they
offer it for ransom from the pain of the penalty on the Day of Judgment, but something will
confront them from God which they could never have counted upon! For the evils of their deeds
will confront them, and they will be encircled by that at which they used to mock!
36. Islam. Qur'an 39.47-48
Upon that Day men shall issue in scatterings to see their works, And whoso has done an atom's
weight of good shall see it, And whoso has done an atom's weight of evil shall see it.
37. Islam. Qur'an 99.6-8
And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works;
and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they
should also, in the last day, be restored unto that which is good.
And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be
restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame--mortality raised to immortality,
corruption to incorruption--raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to
endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other.
38. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Book of Mormon, Alma 41.3-4
Alike of you is he who conceals his speech, and he who proclaims it, he who hides himself in the
night, and he who sallies forth by day; he has attendant angels, before him and behind him,
watching over him by God's command.
39. Islam. Qur'an 13.10-11
Yasna 43.5: Cf. Yansa 48.4, p. 408. The 'final goal of life' will come at the Last Judgment--see Yasna 30.810, p. 1098. Qur'an 39.47-48: Cf. Qur'an 69.13-37, pp. 1098f. and similar passages on the last judgment.
Qur'an 13.10-11: Cf. Qur'an 41.30-31, p. 368; 50.17-19, p. 347. Atharva Veda 4.16.4, p. 111, speaks of
Varuna's 'envoys' who spy out the doings of men.
The Exalted One says, "There are no special doors for calamity and happiness [in men's lot]; they
come as men themselves call them. Their recompenses follow good and evil as the shadow
follows the substance." Accordingly, in heaven and earth there are spirits that take account of
men's transgressions, and, according to the lightness or gravity of their offenses, take away from
their term of life. When that term is curtailed, men become poor and reduced, and meet with
many sorrows and afflictions. All people hate them; punishments and calamities attend them;
good luck and occasions for felicitation shun them; evil stars send down misfortune on them.
When their term of life is exhausted they die.
40. Taoism. Treatise on Response and Retribution 1-2
Treatise on Response and Retribution 1-2: In popular Chinese religion, the Spirit of the Hearth ascends
to Heaven annually to report on the deeds which transpired in that family, at which time a
determination is made on each individual's span of life; see Tract of the Quiet Way, p. 347. Compare
Qur'an 39.42, p. 333; Igbo Consecration, p. 769.
World Scripture
CHAPTER 3: The Purpose of Life for the
Joy And Happiness
For God's Good Pleasure
Image Of God And Temple Of God
Inborn Goodness And Conscience
Original Mind, No Mind
True Love
The purpose of human life is an ideal which transcends the mundane goals of human existence,
for it is based upon the vision of God or Ultimate Reality. The beatific vision, divine joy, and
uniting with the divine will or divine nature are some of the ways in which this purpose is
expressed. At the same time, since the human being is grounded in this Ultimate, the purpose of
life coheres with the essential nature of human beings. The highest and best of human values-love, truth, beauty, goodness, joy, and happiness--are aspirations grounded in the original human
nature. Therefore, the purpose of life may also be conceived as the realization of what is most
essentially human. That is, true human beings manifest the Ultimate in themselves, through
manifesting the perfections of purity, wisdom, impartiality, integrity, and compassion in their
own lives. The fulfillment of humanity is also the sanctification of humanity.
The first section in this chapter describes the purpose of life as the desire of all people for
happiness and especially inner satisfaction. The beatific vision, divine bliss, Nirvana, and the
joys of heaven are incomparably more desirable than the joy that comes with the satisfaction of
mundane desires. In the second section, we turn to the purpose of life as determined from its
divine source. Especially in monotheistic religions where God is the Creator and humans are
creatures, the purpose for human life flows from the purpose for God's creating. We may speak
of the purpose to do God's will, to glorify and return joy to Him.
In the next three sections the purpose of life is considered from the point of view of the intrinsic
nature of the human person. The third section gathers passages on the human being as the image
of God or the dwelling place of God. The fourth section discusses humanity's intrinsic goodness:
the innocence of a child and the inner compass that is the conscience. The fifth section gathers
passages on the original mind, the true Self or Buddha Nature; its realization is the goal of the
spiritual life. This most essential Self is far from the ordinary egoistic meaning of the self: free of
conceptualizations, desires, or egoistic grasping, it may also be characterized as without self or
Finally, we turn to the purpose of life understood as the realization of the divine perfections. The
sixth section expresses the ideal for human existence as a state of holiness, perfection, or
sanctification. The person who attains such a stage of maturity knows at all times an abiding
unity with the Absolute. He is unaffected by self-centered desires and unmoved by praise or
blame from others; his mind is absolutely unified and clear. The final section describes the
perfection of human existence as revealed in the person who has deep love and compassion for
others. The saint is known for his overflowing love, which has its source in the divine ground of
his existence.
The purposes of human life encompass the human being not only as an individual, but also as a
social being and as a participant in the web of all life. We find identity, meaning, and fulfillment
in relationships of family and community. Thus religions define correct social roles and promote
the ideals of social harmony, justice, and peace. Furthermore, human beings have a purpose in
relation to nature. We must protect and enhance our environment while at the same time
cultivating it and harvesting its riches. Finally, human beings have an ultimate destiny,
sometimes expressed in terms of personal immortality and sometimes as a final merging with the
Absolute. These additional dimensions of human life and its purposes will be treated in
subsequent chapters.
World Scripture
The search for happiness is basic to human life, and to the purpose of religion as well. This first section
brings together passages dealing with the religious experience of transcendental joy through union with
Ultimate Reality or the realization of one's true mind. This state may be characterized as bliss (Skt.
ananda) or Nirvana; it is a reality beyond any suffering. Scriptures of all religions depict and extol the
ultimate goal of the religious journey as a state of intoxicating joy.
The section opens with passages which extol the bliss which is the final goal of the spiritual life.
A second group of passages assert how heavenly joys are in every way superior to mundane
pleasures, and then various degrees of happiness are discerned, depending upon the level of one's
spiritual awareness. The highest level is attained only with the complete cessation of selfcentered desires and denial of self in relation to the Absolute. The last group of passages
recommend that one live in a state of contentment, joy, and praise, even as one pursues the path
to ultimate bliss; a heart filled with bliss is itself a prerequisite for realizing higher, more refined
states of divine happiness.
Thou dost show me the path of life; in Thy presence there is fulness of joy, in Thy right hand are
pleasures for evermore.
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 16.11
No person knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden for them--as a reward for their good
2. Islam. Qur'an 32.17
No eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love Him.
3. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 2.9
I created you human beings because I desired to see you lead a joyous life.
4. Tenrikyo. Ofudesaki 14.25
Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of God: for without
doubt, in the remembrance of God do hearts find satisfaction.
For those who believe and work righteousness, is blessedness, and a beautiful place of return.
5. Islam. Qur'an 13.28-29
The soul which is free from the defect of karma gets to the highest point of the universe, knows
all and perceives all, and obtains the transcendental bliss everlasting.
6. Jainism. Kundakunda, Pancastikaya 170
And may the sovereign Good be ours!
According as one desires bliss may one receive bliss
Through Thy most far-seeing Spirit, O Lord,
The wonders of the Good Mind which Thou wilt give as righteousness,
With the joy of long life all the days!
7. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 43.2
Lao Tan said, "I was letting my mind wander in the beginning of things."
"What does this mean?" asked Confucius.
Lao Tan said, "It means to attain Perfect Beauty and wander in Perfect Happiness. He who
attains Perfect Beauty and wanders in Perfect Happiness may be called the Perfect Man."
8. Taoism Chuang Tzu 21
At any one moment, Nirvana has neither the phenomenon of becoming, nor that of cessation, nor
even the ceasing of operation of becoming and cessation. It is the manifestation of perfect rest
and cessation of changes, but at the time of manifestation there is not even a concept of
manifestation; so it is called the Everlasting Joy which has neither enjoyer nor non-enjoyer.
9. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 7
There is no limit to joy. Happiness has no end. When you are standing in the love of God, every
cell in your body jumps for joy. You breathe in and out with the entire universe. In this state,
your life is fulfilled. This is how God means us to live, intoxicated in love and joy. And through
our joy, God receives His joy. The joy of man is the joy of God; and the joy of God is the joy of
10. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73
Ofudesaki 14.25: Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 6-20-82, p. 146. Qur'an 13.28-29: 'Blessedness' means the state
of internal satisfaction and inward joy. Pancastikaya 170: Cf. Acarangasutra 2.173, p. 74;
Ratnakarandasravakacara 131, p. 136. Chuang Tzu 21: Cf. Chuang Tzu 13, p. 311. Sutra of Hui Neng 7: Cf.
Anguttara Nikaya v.322, p. 136.
In spontaneous joy is rising the mystic melody;
In the holy Word my heart feels joy and perpetually disports.
In the cave of spontaneous realization is it in trance,
Stationed on a splendid high cushion.
After wandering to my home [true self] have I returned,
And all of my desires have obtained.
Devotees of God! completely fulfilled is my self,
As the Master has granted a vision of the Supreme Being,
realized by mystic illumination.
Himself is He King, Himself the multitude;
Himself the supremely liberated, Himself of joys the Relisher;
With Him seated on the throne of eternal justice,
ended is all wailing and crying.
As I have seen, such vision of Him have I conveyed-Only those who are initiated into this mystery have its joy.
As light is merged into Divine Light, has joy come:
Nanak, servant of God, has beheld the sole, all-pervading Supreme Being.
11. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Majh, M.5, p. 97
The kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy
12. Christianity. Bible, Romans 14.17
You should devote yourselves to find joy in pleasures of the Dharma, and should take no
pleasure in desires.
13. Buddhism. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 4
The Infinite is the source of joy. There is no joy in the finite. Only in the Infinite is there joy. Ask
to know the Infinite.
14. Hinduism. Chandogya Upanishad 7.23
Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73: Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 9-11-77, p. 586; Sun Myung Moon, 4-25-81, p. 240;
Divine Principle I.1.3.1, p. 205. On the intoxication of divine bliss, see Srimad Bhagavatam 11.8, p. 761.
Majh, M.5: Cf. Japuji 37, p. 354. Romans 14.17: Cf. Galatians 5.19-23, p. 465; Analects 4.8, p. 558. Holy
Teaching of Vimalakirti 4: Vimalakirti goes on to elucidate the 'pleasures of the Dharma.' They are to: (1)
have faith in the Buddha; (2) listen to the Dharma; (3) make offerings to the Sangha; (4) leave the five
inherent desires; (5) regard the five skandhas as enemies; (6) regard the four basic elements which
constitute the body as poisonous snakes; (7) keep the determination to achieve Buddhahood in one's
mind; (8) respect one's teachers; (9) accumulate merits, etc. Cf. Dhammapada 290, Katha Upanishad
1.2.1-2, p. 675. Chandogya Upanishad 7.23: Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 7.25.2, p. 530; Srimad
Bhagavatam 11.8, p. 761.
When totally free from outer contacts
a man finds happiness in himself,
He is fully trained in God's discipline
and reaches unending bliss.
The experiences we owe to our sense of touch
are only sources of unpleasantness.
They have a beginning and an end.
A wise man takes no pleasure in them.
That man is disciplined and happy
who can prevail over the turmoil
That springs from desire and anger,
here on earth, before he leaves his body.
15. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 5.21-23
Diseases have hunger as their worst. Sufferings have dispositions as their worst. Knowing this in
proper perspective, freedom (Nibb-ana) is the ultimate happiness.
Of all gains, good health is the greatest. Of all wealth, contentment is the greatest. Among
kinsmen, the trusty is the greatest. Freedom (Nibb-ana) is the ultimate happiness.
Having imbibed the essence of solitude and the essence of tranquillity, and imbibing the joyous
essence of righteousness, one becomes free from anguish and free from evil.
16. Buddhism. Dhammapada 203-05
The bliss of lusts and heaven-world equal not One sixteenth of the bliss of craving's ending.
17. Buddhism. Udana 11
The felicity that results from the gratification of desire, or that other purer felicity which one
enjoys in heaven, does not come to even a sixteenth part of that which arises upon the
abandonment of all kinds of thirst!
18. Hinduism. Mahabharata, Shantiparva 177
God has promised to believers... beautiful mansions in Gardens of everlasting bliss. But the
greatest bliss is the good pleasure of God: that is the supreme felicity.
19. Islam. Qur'an 9.72
Bhagavad Gita 5.21-23: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 6.20-22, pp. 843f.; Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.6-7, p. 927;
Dhammapada 89, p. 225. Dhammapada 203-05: The joy of right concentration is also mentioned as the
final stage in the Noble Eightfold Path in Majjhima Nikaya iii.251-52, p. 170. This is ecstasy, which, as the
word literally indicates, means to turn from the old center--whether selfishness or a dependence on the
illusory or temporal--to a new and ultimate center. Cf. Anguttara Nikaya iii.34, p. 531; Sutra 21, p. 205.
Udana 11: Cf. Udana 19-20, p. 776. Qur'an 9.72: Cf. Qur'an 56.10-27, p. 354.
From Joy there is some bliss, from Perfect Joy yet more, from the Joy of cessation comes a
passionless state, and the Joy of the Innate is finality. The first comes by desire for contact, the
second by desire for bliss, the third from the passing of passion, and by this means the fourth is
20. Buddhism. Hevajra Tantra 8.32-33
The Self-existent is the essence of all felicity... Who could live, who could breathe, if that
blissful Self dwelt not within the lotus of the heart? He it is that gives joy.
Of what is the nature of joy?
Consider the lot of a young man, noble, well-read, intelligent, strong, healthy, with all the wealth
of the world at his command. Assume that he is happy, and measure his joy as one unit.
One hundred times that joy is one unit of the gandharvas; but no less joy than gandharvas has the
seer to whom the Self has been revealed, and who is without craving.
One hundred times the joy of the gandharvas is one unit of the joy of celestial gandharvas
[angels]; but no less joy than the celestial gandharvas has the sage to whom the Self has been
revealed, and who is without craving.
One hundred times the joy of the celestial gandharvas is one unit of the joy of the pitris in their
paradise... joy of the devas... joy of the devas born out of sacrifice... joy of the ruling devas... joy
of Indra... joy of Brihaspati... joy of Prajapati... joy of Brahma, but no less joy than Brahma has
the seer to whom the Self has been revealed, and who is without craving.
It is written: He who knows the joy of Brahman, which words cannot express and the mind
cannot reach, is free from fear. He is not distressed by the thought, "Why did I not do what is
right? Why did I do what is wrong?" He who knows the joy of Brahman, knowing both good and
evil, transcends them both.
21. Hinduism. Taittiriya Upanishad 2.7-9
Life is art.
The whole life of man is Self-Expression.
The individual is an expression of God.
We suffer if we do not express ourselves.
22. Perfect Liberty Kyodan. Precepts 1-4
The Holy Spirit rests on him only who has a joyous heart.
23. Judaism. Jerusalem Talmud, Sukkot 5.1
Taittiriya Upanishad 2.7-9: On the joys of heaven, see Rig Veda 9.113.8-11, p. 357. On the multiple levels
of spiritual realities, cf. 1 Corinthians 15.40-41, pp. 322f.
Rabbi Baruqa of Huza often went to the marketplace at Lapet. One day, the prophet Elijah
appeared to him there, and Rabbi Baruqa asked him, "Is there anyone among all these people
who will have a share in the World to Come?" Elijah answered, "There is none." Later, two men
came to the marketplace, and Elijah said to Rabbi Baruqa, "Those two will have a share in the
World to Come!" Rabbi Baruqa asked the newcomers, "What is your occupation?" They replied,
"We are clowns. When we see someone who is sad, we cheer him up. When we see two people
quarreling, we try to make peace between them."
24. Judaism. Talmud, Ta'anit 22a
To seek gladness through righteous persistence is the way to accord with heaven and to respond
to men.
25. Confucianism. I Ching 58: Joy
When one obtains happiness then one proceeds to act [perform sacrifice]. No one acts without
first obtaining happiness.
Only by obtaining happiness does one act.
26. Hinduism. Chandogya Upanishad 7.22
Mother mine! Bliss have I attained in union with the Divine Master:
Spontaneously has union with the Divine Master come about-In my mind resounds joyous music.
Fairies of the family of jewel harmony have descended to sing holy songs;
Sing all ye the Lord's song, who have lodged it in heart!
Says Nanak, Bliss have I attained on union with the Divine Master.
27. Sikhism. Ramkali, Anandu, M.3, p. 917
Let us live happily, without hate amongst those who hate. Let us dwell unhating amidst hateful
Let us live happily, in good health amongst those who are sick. Let us dwell in good health
amidst ailing men.
Let us live happily, without yearning for sensual pleasures amongst those who yearn for them.
Let us dwell without yearning amidst those who yearn.
Let us live happily, we who have no impediments. We shall subsist on joy even as the radiant
28. Buddhism. Dhammapada 197-200
Ta'anit 22a: Cf. Matthew 5.9, p. 555. Chandogya Upanishad 7.22: The proper frame of mind for engaging
in worship is one of tranquillity and joy. Cf. Chuang Tzu 23, p. 735; Berakot 5.1, p. 735; Taittiriya
Upanishad 1.11.3, p. 866; 2 Corinthians 9.7, p. 866; Sutta Nipata 506, p. 866. Ramkali, Anandu M.3: Cf.
Japuji 37, p. 354; Bilaval Chhant 2.1-2, p. 763.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord is God!
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him, bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
29. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 100
World Scripture
As creatures, human beings are created with a purpose that is determined not by themselves but by
their Creator. This understanding is particularly well understood in the monotheistic religions, which
recognize that God's purpose for creating human beings is to find those creatures who would recognize,
serve, glorify, and love Him. Therefore, human beings can find fulfillment in the service of God.
In the Jewish tradition and in some new religions, the loving God Himself rejoices when He is
glorified and adored by human beings reflecting His image; thus we can speak of the purpose of
life as fulfilled in returning joy to God. God's love for humankind blossoms into divine ecstasy
as that love is multiplied and happiness spreads throughout the human race. (On the other side of
divine passion, namely God's sorrow over the evil plight of mankind, see God's Grief, pp. 45762.) Analogously, in Mahayana Buddhist texts the Buddha rejoices as sentient beings are
enlightened by the Dharma. In Hinduism the embodied Self within stands as the Enjoyer of all
phenomena. The joy of God may be recognized as the divine counterpart to the quest for human
happiness described in the previous section.
On the other hand, in religious conceptions which lack a personal God, or which stress God's
absolute sovereignty, Ultimate Reality is already perfect, beyond desiring, impassible, and
without need of anything. In Islam, God is often conceived of as the Sovereign Lord, high above
the world and unilaterally enforcing His will on mankind. In Hindu Vedanta, God's apparent
motivation for activity in the world and among human beings is nothing but lila, divine play.
Several passages teaching the divine impassibility are given at the conclusion of this section.
I have created the jinn and humankind only that they might serve Me.
1. Islam. Qur'an 51.56
How then to become true to the Creator?
How to demolish the wall of illusion?
Through obedience to His Ordinance and Will.
2. Sikhism. Japuji 1, M.1, p. 1
Do not try to develop what is natural to man; develop what is natural to Heaven. He who
develops Heaven benefits life; he who develops man injures life.
3. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 19
If it be your wish, O people, to know God and to discover the greatness of His might, look, then,
upon Me with My own eyes, and not with the eyes of anyone besides Me. You will, otherwise,
be never capable of recognizing Me, though you ponder My Cause as long as My Kingdom
4. Baha'i Faith. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 127
There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist.
5. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 8.6
All that God created in His world He created only for His glory, as it is said, "All that is called
by my name, for my glory I created and fashioned and made it" (Isaiah 43.7).
6. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 6.11
O Lord of all, hail unto Thee!
The Soul of all, causing all acts,
Enjoying all, all life art Thou!
Lord of all pleasure and delight!
7. Hinduism. Maitri Upanishad 5.1
I was a secret treasure, and I created the creatures in order that I might be known.
8. Islam. Hadith
Qur'an 51.56: Cf. Qur'an 9.72, p. 200. Japuji 1, M.1: Cf. Yasna 34.12, p. 771. Chuang Tzu 19: On how
developing man injures life, see Chuang Tzu 17, p. 294. 1 Corinthians 8.6: Cf. John 6.38, p. 770. Hadith:
Cf. Qur'an 89.27-30, p. 552.
God's purpose in creating the universe was to feel happiness when He saw the purpose of
goodness fulfilled in the Heavenly Kingdom, which the whole creation, including man, could
have established.... The purpose of the universe's existence centered on man is to return joy to
God, the Creator.
9. Unification Church. Divine Principle I.1.3.1
O Son of Man! Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I
knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image, and revealed
to thee My beauty.
10. Baha'i Faith. Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, Arabic 3
Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but
requires all mankind to share it.
11. Christian Science. Science and Health, 57
God longs to hear the prayer of the righteous.
12. Judaism. Talmud, Yebamot 64a
When all human beings have accomplished the purification of their minds and come to lead a life
full of joy, I, Tsukihi (God), will become cheered up. And when I become cheered up, so will all
human beings. When the minds of all the world become cheered up, God and human beings will
become altogether cheered up in one accord.
13. Tenrikyo. Ofudesaki VII.109-111
Those who can hold to this scripture
Shall cause me and the emanations of my body,
As well as the Buddha Many Jewels, now passed into extinction,
All without exception to rejoice.
The Buddhas of the present in all ten quarters,
As well as those of past and future,
They shall both see and shower with offerings,
Enabling them, too, to gain joy.
14. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 21
Divine Principle I.1.3.1: Cf. Sun Myung Moon 2-12-61, p. 117; 6-20-82, p. 146; 10-20-73, p. 197. Hidden
Words of Baha'u'llah, Arabic 3: Cf. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 27, p. 311. Science and
Health, 57: Cf. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.17 and 1.4.3, p. 252. Yebamot 64a: Cf. Hosea 11.1-9, pp.
460f.; Matthew 23.37, p. 458. Ofudesaki VII.109-11: Cf. Ofudesaki XVII.64-70, p. 460. Lotus Sutra 21: The
'Buddha Many Jewels' is the Buddha called Prabhutaratna, who symbolically represents the Dharma.
The Buddha and his emanations will enjoy ecstasy, which is an element of the latter stages in the Noble
Eightfold Path--cf. Majjhima Nikaya iii.251-52, p. 170.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My Delight is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a virgin,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.
15. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 62.4-5
Ever is He in bliss, ever fulfilled.
16. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 3, M.1, p. 2
O mankind! It is you that have need of God: but God is the One Free of all wants, worthy of all
17. Islam. Qur'an 35.15
Brahma's creative activity is not undertaken by way of any need on his part, but simply by way
of sport.
18. Hinduism. Brahma Sutra 2.1.32-33
We created not the heaven and the earth and all that is between them in play. If We had wished
to find a pastime, We could have found it in Our presence--if We ever did. Nay, but We hurl the
true against the false, and it prevails over it, and lo! [the false] vanishes... To Him belongs
whosoever is in the heavens and the earth. And those who dwell in His presence are not too
proud to worship Him, nor do they weary.
19. Islam. Qur'an 21.16-19
Isaiah 62.4-5: Cf. Revelation 21.1-7, pp. 1118f. Japuji 3: Cf. Majh, M.5, p. 198. Brahma Sutra 2.1.32-33:
Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 7.23-25, p. 95.
World Scripture
The next three sections contain passages describing the original human nature or divine Self within
every person. Some such concept is found universally, yet there are important distinctions and different
emphases among the various religions. We begin with passages depicting humans as reflecting the
image of God and conclude with passages portraying humans as temples of God and dwelling places of
God's Spirit. These include psychological and metaphysical claims of man's likeness to divinity and also
exhortations to become the image of God as an ideal of holiness.
In Judaism and Christianity, human beings are regarded as created in the image of God (imago
dei) and meant to be the home for God's indwelling Spirit. Christians disagree, however, on the
extent to which the image of God has been damaged by the fall of man (the Original Sin); see
Degraded Human Nature, pp. 452-56. Conservative Protestants in the Calvinist tradition regard
the damage as so severe that humans cannot be good or have a relationship with God without the
added grace of Christ. Catholic, Orthodox, and liberal Protestant Christians still see vestiges of
the imago dei in fallen humanity, giving all people the intuitive ability to judge right from wrong
and to know God.
There is wider agreement when the image of God is presented as an ideal of holiness. Confucian,
Jewish, Christian, and Shinto scriptures speak of the saint or superior man as one who is like
unto Heaven, or a Buddha, or one who manifests the character of God.
In Hindu and Sikh scriptures the Atman or Self is the immutable and ever-present manifestation
of Ultimate Reality immanent in each person. Most people live in ignorance of the Self, act
entirely from the motives of egoism, and are enchained by their karma: hence to realize the true
Self is liberation. This is an ontological assertion about what is most essentially human: since
humans are essentially Spirit they should not make the error of identifying themselves with
matter. The Metaphysical Movement in the nineteenth century spawned new religions which
hold a similar view; among them are Christian Science, Seicho-no-Ie, and (with significant
differences) the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which are represented by passages
in this section.
God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Genesis 1.26
If we keep unperverted the human heart--which is like unto heaven and received from earth--that
is God.
2. Shinto. Revelation to Mikado Seiwa
Every being has the Buddha Nature. This is the self.
3. Buddhism. Mahaparinirvana Sutra 214
That which is the finest essence--this whole world has that as its soul. That is Reality. That is the
Self. That art thou.
4. Hinduism. Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7
Conform yourselves to the character of God.
5. Islam. Hadith of Abu Nuaym
Genesis 1.26: The plural has been variously understood as the persons of the Trinity, God speaking to his
angels, or the plural of majesty. Revelation to Mikado Seiwa: Finding kami within is discovering the
reality of one's own nature. This quotation shows the influence of the Buddhist concept of Buddha
nature. The Shinto flavor comes in the linking of heaven and earth--like the rope which links the shrine
(symbol of the divine presence) and the worshipper. Mahaparinirvana Sutra 214: The Buddha nature is
not an ontological immanent Being, as in the following passage from the Upanishads, but is rather a
quality of thought and action that is pure and participates fully in the Buddha's wisdom and compassion.
Compare 'This very mind is Buddha,' Mumonkan 30, p. 116; also Sutra of Hui Neng 1, p. 217. See the
longer passage on p. 219. Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7: See also Bhagavad Gita 10.41, Kena Upanishad
1.1-2, p. 117.
Fire blazing from the earth.
The Superior man reflects in his person [Heaven's] virtue.
6. Confucianism and Taoism. I Ching 35: Progress
You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
7. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 5.48
And the Lord said to Moses, "Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel, 'You shall be
holy; for I the Lord your God am holy.'"
8. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Leviticus 19.1-2
As God is called merciful and gracious, so you be merciful and gracious,
offering gifts gratis to all; as the Lord is called righteous and loving,
so you be righteous and loving.
9. Judaism. Midrash, Sifre Deuteronomy
Beloved is man, for he was created in the image of God. But it was by a special love that it was
made known to him that he was created in the image of God.
10. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 3.18
Father, O mighty Force,
That Force which is in everything,
Come down between us, fill us,
Until we become like Thee,
Until we become like Thee.
11. African Traditional Religions. Susu Prayer (Guinea)
"Now what do you think, Vasettha... is Brahma in possession of wives and wealth, or is he not?"
"He is not, Gotama."
"Is his mind full of anger, or free from anger?"
"Free from anger, Gotama."
"Is his mind full of malice, or free from malice?"
"Free from malice, Gotama."
"Is his mind tarnished, or is it pure?"
"It is pure, Gotama."
"Has he self-mastery, or has he not?"
"He has, Gotama."
"Now what do you think, Vasettha, are the brahmins versed in the Vedas in possession of wives
and wealth, or are they not?"
"They are, Gotama."
"Have they anger in their hearts, or have they not?"
"They have, Gotama."
"Do they bear malice, or do they not?"
"They do, Gotama."
"Are they pure in heart, or are they not?"
"They are not, Gotama."
"Have they self-mastery, or have they not?"
"They have not, Gotama."
"Can there, then, be agreement and likeness between the brahmins with their wives and property,
and Brahma, who has none of these things?"
"Certainly not, Gotama!"
"Then that these brahmins versed in the Vedas, who also live married and wealthy, should after
death, when the body is dissolved, become united with Brahma, who has none of these things-such a condition of things is impossible!"...
"Now what do you think, Vasettha, will the bhikkhu who lives [according to the Dhamma] be in
possession of women and of wealth, or will he not?"
"He will not, Gotama!"
"Will he be full of anger, or free from anger?"
"He will be free from anger, Gotama!"
"Will his mind be full of malice, or free from malice?"
"Free from malice, Gotama!"
"Will his mind be tarnished, or pure?"
"It will be pure, Gotama!"
"Will he have self-mastery, or will he not?"
"Surely he will, Gotama!"
"Then as you say, the bhikkhu is free from household and worldly cares, free from anger, free
from malice, pure in mind, and master of himself; and Brahma also is free from household and
worldly cares, free from anger, free from malice, pure in mind, and master of himself. Is there
then agreement and likeness between the bhikkhu and Brahma?"
"There is, Gotama!"
"Then verily, that the bhikkhu who is free from household cares should after death, when the
body is dissolved, become united with Brahma, who is the same--such a condition of things is in
every way possible!"
12. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya xiii.31-34, Tevigga Sutta
I have breathed into man of My spirit.
13. Islam. Qur'an 15.29
Tevigga Sutta: The Buddha did not himself maintain the existence of Brahma as the supreme God; for no
supreme God can be found in Emptiness. Yet the principle at issue is affirmed: the arhat is in the image
of Ultimate Reality since the arhat in his own being is empty. Cf. Heart Sutra, pp. 589f. This argument is
an example of the Buddha's skill in means, expressing the truth of Buddhism in terms suitable to a Hindu
who believes in Brahma.
Let a man always consider himself as if the Holy One dwells within him.
14. Judaism. Talmud, Ta'anit 11b
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
15. Christianity. Bible, Galatians 2.20
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?... For God's
temple is holy, and that temple you are.
16. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 3.16-17
Just as God fills the whole world, so the soul fills the body. Just as God sees, but is not seen, so
the soul sees, but is not itself seen. Just as God feeds the whole world, so the soul feeds the
whole body. Just as God is pure, so the soul is pure. Just as God dwells in the innermost
precincts [of the Temple], so also the soul dwells in the innermost part of the body.
17. Judaism. Talmud, Berakot 10a
The rich build temples to Shiva,
What shall I, a poor man, do?
O my Lord! my legs are the pillars,
My torso, the shrine,
And my head, the golden pinnacle!
Things standing shall fall,
But the moving ever shall stay!
18. Hinduism. Basavanna, Vacana 820
The deity is immanent in man and man is inherent in the deity; there is neither the divine nor the
human; there is no difference in essence at all between them.
19. Shinto. Shinto Tradition
Smaller than the smallest, greater than the greatest, this Self forever dwells within the hearts of
all. When a man is free from desire, his mind and senses purified, he beholds the glory of the
Self and is without sorrow.
Though seated, he travels far; though at rest, he moves all things. Who but the purest of the pure
can realize this Effulgent Being, who is joy and who is beyond joy.
Formless is he, though inhabiting form. In the midst of the fleeting he abides forever. Allpervading and supreme is the Self. The wise man, knowing him in his true nature, transcends all
20. Hinduism. Katha Upanishad 1.2.20-22
Galatians 2.20: With the coming of Christ, divinity entered humanity and humanity became deified. For
Christians of the Orthodox faith, the highest goal is divinization, oneness with Christ. As St. Athanasius
taught: in Jesus Christ, God became man that man might be drawn back into the divine harmony. Cf.
John 14.15-21, p. 645. 1 Corinthians 3.16-17: Every human being is meant to be a holy temple of God.
This also applies to the body, which should never suffer defilement; cf. 1 Corinthians 6.13-19, p. 47 2.
Vacana 820: Indian temples are traditionally built in the image of the human body, which is the
primordial blueprint of the cosmos. In Lingayat Shaivism, the body itself becomes a temple of Shiva in
private worship--see Vacana 743, p. 852. Indeed, to overcome the formalization of temple worship, we
should return to the living original temple.
This is a wonderful, unique discourse:
The living self is the image of the Supreme Being.
It is neither old nor a child;
Neither it suffers pain, nor in death's snare is caught;
It is not shattered nor dies;
In all time it is pervasive.
It feels not heat nor cold;
Neither has it friend nor foe;
It feels not joy nor sorrow:
All is its own; to it belongs all might.
It has neither father nor mother;
Beyond the limits of matter has it ever existed.
Of sin and goodness it feels not the touch-Within the heart of each being it is ever awake.
21. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gaund, M.5, p. 868
Bright but hidden, the Self dwells in the heart.
Everything that moves, breathes, opens, and closes
Lives in the Self. He is the source of love
And may be known through love but not through thought.
He is the goal of life. Attain this goal!
The shining Self dwells hidden in the heart.
Everything in the cosmos, great and small,
Lives in the Self. He is the source of life,
Truth beyond the transience of this world.
He is the goal of life. Attain this goal!
22. Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.1-2
What is man?
Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The
Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that
likeness. The likeness of Spirit cannot be so unlike Spirit. Man is spiritual and perfect; and
because he is spiritual and perfect, he must be so understood in Christian Science. Man is idea,
the image, of Love; he is not physique.
23. Christian Science. Science and Health, 475
Katha Upanishad 1.2.20-22: Cf. Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.10-11, Kena Upanishad 1.1-2, p. 117.
Become fully aware of the true image of man:
Man is spirit,
Man is life,
Man is deathless.
God is the Light Source of man,
And man is the light that came from God.
There is neither light source without light,
Nor light without a light source.
Just as light and its light source are one,
So man and God are one.
God is Spirit; therefore, man is also spirit.
God is Love; therefore, man is also love.
God is Wisdom; therefore, man is also wisdom.
Spirit is not material in nature;
Love is not material in nature;
Wisdom is not material in nature.
Therefore, man, who is spirit, love, and wisdom, is in no way related to matter.
24. Seicho-no-Ie. Nectarean Shower of Holy Doctrines 48-49
Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or
made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it,
to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.
Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was
from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. And every man
whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation.
For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected,
receive a fulness of joy; and when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy. The elements
are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever
temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.
25. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Doctrine and Covenants 93.29-35
Nectarean Shower of Holy Doctrines: In his expressions Taniguchi, the founder of Seicho-no-Ie, is
influenced by Christian terminology. Yet the thought is still rooted in the fusion of Shinto and Buddhist
traditions of popular Japanese religion. Doctrine and Covenants 93.29-35: While the human person is
essentially spirit or Intelligence, matter and the body also have a positive role. As in the Christian
tradition generally, scriptures of the Latter-day Saints teach that Spirit must be enfleshed to produce
God's temple, and in order that humans may realize their full purpose.
World Scripture
We continue the theme of the original human nature with passages on the essential goodness of human
beings. Confucianism, for example, regards the original heart of man as inherently good and
characterized by benevolence (jen); this is illustrated by the well-known passage from Mencius about
people's spontaneous reactions to a child falling into a well. Islam likewise regards human nature as
inherently upright, and St. Paul wrote of the human conscience, which allows even those unacquainted
with religion or moral teachings to distinguish right from wrong. We begin, however, with a group of
passages on the ideal of the little child, whose innocence and purity allows him or her to easily and
naturally grasp the truth. On the converse, the innate sinfulness of man, see Ill, pp. 379-85.
Every child is born of the nature of purity and submission to God.
1. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari
God needs no pointing out to a child.
2. African Traditional Religions. Akan Proverb (Ghana)
Mencius said, "The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart."
3. Confucianism. Mencius IV.B.12
Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall,
man became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.
4. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Doctrine and Covenants 93.38
Mencius IV.B.12: Cf. Tao Te Ching 55, p. 231; 20, p. 608. Doctrine and Covenants 93.38: This is an
argument against the need for infant baptism. Christ has already redeemed mankind from the original
sin, and hence all people start out innocent at birth.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless
you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
5. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 18.1-3
Gentleness and goodness are the roots of humanity.
6. Confucianism. Book of Ritual 38.18
Religion is basically virtue, which is grounded ultimately in the spiritual nature of man.
7. Jainism. Kundakunda, Pravacanasara 7
So set your purpose for religion as a man by nature upright--the nature [framed] of God, in which
He has created man. There is no altering the laws of God's creation. That is the right religion.
8. Islam. Qur'an 30.30
You may not see yourself growing up, but you definitely know it when you are sinning.
9. African Traditional Religions. Akan Proverb (Ghana)
Wabisah ibn Ma`bad said, "I went to see the Messenger of God and he said to me, 'You want to
question me on the subject of virtue?' 'Yes,' I replied, and he went on, 'Question your heart.
Virtue is that by which the soul enjoys repose and the heart tranquillity. Sin is what introduces
trouble into the soul and tumult into man's bosom--and this despite the religious advice which
men may give you.'"
10. Islam. 40 Hadith of an-Nawawi 27
When Gentiles who have not the Law do by nature what the Law requires, they are a law to
themselves, even though they do not have the Law. They show that what the Law requires is
written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts
accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets
of men by Christ Jesus.
11. Christianity. Bible, Romans 2.14-16
Matthew 18.1-3: Christians do not take this text to mean that the original nature of man is innocent.
Rather, the child exemplifies an attitude of simplicity and innocence by which one can easily accept the
gospel; cf. Luke 18.16-17, p. 912. Book of Ritual 38.18: But the initial goodness is ordinarily corrupted;
see Book of Songs, Ode 255, p. 385. Pravacanasara 7: Cf. Gottamasara, p. 453. Qur'an 30.30: See also
Qur'an 12.53, p. 383. Romans 2.14-16: The conscience is that universal attribute of man that allows
everyone to recognize the truth. Yet at the same time, everyone is afflicted by sin; see Romans 3.9-12, p.
383; 1 John 1.8, p. 383.
We are the pitiful prisoners of sin, totally ignorant of the most precious and intimate being and
master whom we would never trade for everything in heaven and earth. That master is one's own
conscience. How often has this conscience given us advice, and while we were immersed in
sinful thinking day and night it tirelessly helped us to cross the river to safety.
12. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 3-30-90
Mencius said, "All men have this heart that, when they see another man suffer, they suffer, too.
The ancient kings had this heart: when they saw men suffer, they suffered, too. Therefore the
former kings ran a government that, when it saw men suffer, it suffered, too. With a heart such as
that... they could rule the empire as if it were something they turned in the palm of their hand.
"What do I mean, 'All men have this heart, that when they see another man suffer, they suffer
too?' Well, take an example: a man looks out; a child is about to fall into a well. No matter who
the man is, his heart will flip, flop, and he will feel the child's predicament; and not because he
expects to get something out of it from the child's parents, or because he wants praise from his
neighbors, associates, or friends, or because he is afraid of a bad name, or anything like that.
"From this we can see that it is not human not to have a heart that sympathizes with pain.
Likewise not to have a heart that is repelled by vice: that is not human, either. Not to have a heart
that is willing to defer: that's not human. And not to have a heart that discriminates between true
and false is not human, either.
"What is the foundation of natural human feeling for others (jen)? The heart that sympathizes
with pain. What is the foundation of a commitment to the common good (i)? The heart that is
repelled by vice. What is the foundation of respect for social and religious forms (li)? The heart
that is willing to defer. And what is the foundation for a liberal education (chih)? The heart that
can tell true from false.
"People have these four foundations like they have four limbs. A man who says he cannot
practice them is calling himself a criminal. A man who says the ruler cannot practice that is
calling the ruler a criminal.
"Everybody has these four foundations in himself. If these four foundations can be filled in on a
broad scale, it will be like a fire starting up, it will be like a spring bursting through. If they can
be filled in, it will be enough to create and preserve the world order. Leave them unfilled, it will
be impossible for a man to take care of his father and mother."
13. Confucianism. Mencius II.A.6
Sun Myung Moon, 3-30-90: Cf. Romans 7.15-24, p. 391; Chandogya Upanishad 8.12.1, p. 387. Mencius
II.A.6: Mencius lists the four Confucian virtues: benevolence (jen), dutifulness or concern for the public
good (i), observance of proper social and religious forms (li), and education (chih). They are all founded
upon germs which lie in the heart of every person.
World Scripture
The passages in this section discuss the original mind or true self of the human being, which is the
proper ground of enlightenment. The Original Mind is the intrinsic essence of mind, the true self. It is
inherently pure and good, and in Christian terms it can be said to participate in the Kingdom of God. In
Eastern traditions it is prior to thought, prior to desire, prior to any conceptualization at all. It is
discovered by stripping away all sensation, desire, concepts, intellection, volition, and awareness of "I."
It partakes of the Oneness of all. Buddhism calls this mind the Buddha Nature, and much of Buddhist
practice is aimed at its realization. They also call it "no-mind" because it is without any grasping at a
(selfish) self. Taoists agree, and seek to strip away all intellection and formalism in order to arrive at the
spontaneous activity of the natural man who lives at one with the Tao of the universe. Some of the
passages here criticize pious attempts to delineate a true nature of man based on doctrinal or formal
criteria like Goodness or Benevolence, saying they only increase delusion by imposing artificial
obstructions in the way of the functioning of the true self. Instead, all attachments must be stripped
away until there is nothing but emptiness. Then the heart can be heard. Cf. Immanent, pp. 113-18.
That which is the finest essence--this whole world has that as its soul. That is Reality. That is the
Self (Atman). That art thou.
1. Hinduism. Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7
For him who... knows his own mind and sees intuitively his own nature, he is a Hero, a Teacher
of gods and men, a Buddha.
2. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 1
Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7: Cf. Isha Upanishad 15-16, p. 74; Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.7, p. 114; Mahj
Ashtpadi M.3, p. 114. Sutra of Hui Neng 1: Cf. Sutra of Hui Neng 2, p. 536; 6, p. 116; Mumonkan 30, p.
116; Meditation on Buddha Amitayus 17, p. 646.
The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, "Lo, here it is!"
or "There!" for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
3. Christianity. Bible, Luke 17.20-21
The Plain of High Heaven is not a specific place localized here or there, but refers rather to a
pure state without any anomaly or excess. In terms of the human body, it is a state within the
human breast without thought, contemplation, or passions.
4. Shinto. Masamichi Imbe, Secret Oral Tradition of the Book of the Divine Age
One may understand the true nature of the Tirthankara.... One may have interest in and devotion
to the scripture. One may have self-control and penance. With all these, if one is not capable of
realizing his own true self, to him Nirvana is beyond reach.
5. Jainism. Kundakunda, Pancastikaya 170
Ordinary men and ignorant people understand neither the Essence of Mind nor the Pure Land
within themselves, so they wish to be born in the East or the West[ern Paradise]. But to the
enlightened, everywhere is the same. As the Buddha said, "No matter where they happen to be,
they are always happy and comfortable." If your mind is free from evil, the West is not far from
here; but difficult indeed it would be for one whose heart is impure to be born there by invoking
6. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 3
Is it not the fact that there is in the body a clot of blood which, if it
is in good condition, the whole body is, too; and if it is in rotten
condition, so too is the whole body? Is not this the heart?
7. Islam. 40 Hadith of an-Nawawi 6
Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light; but
when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be
darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as
when a lamp with its rays gives you light.
8. Christianity. Bible, Luke 11.34-36
Luke 17.21: This passage has been interpreted in various ways by exegetes. The words 'within you' can
also be translated 'in the midst of you,' in which case the passage means that the people should regard
Jesus and his community which dwells among them as the incipient kingdom. But the more mystical
meaning of the passage is that the kingdom is within the minds and hearts of believers. Secret Oral
Tradition: Cf. Records of the Enthronement of the Two Imperial Deities at Ise, p. 829. Pancastikaya 170:
Cf. Tattvarthasutra 1.19-29, p. 800; Svetasvatara Upanishad 4.8, p. 804. Sutra of Hui Neng 3: Here is a
criticism of Pure Land Buddhism with its emphasis on salvation by faith in the vow of Amitabha Buddha;
cf. Larger Sukhavati Sutra 8.18, p. 639. 40 Hadith of an-Nawawi 6: Cf. Qur'an 22.46, p. 400; Black Elk, p.
536. Luke 11.34-36: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 5.15-16, p. 535.
As one not knowing that a golden treasure lies buried beneath his feet may walk over it again and
again, yet never find it, so all beings live every moment in the city of Brahman, yet never find
him because of the veil of illusion by which he is concealed.
9. Hinduism. Chandogya Upanishad 8.3.2
Every being has the Buddha Nature. This is the self. Such a self is, since the very beginning,
under cover of innumerable illusions. That is why a man cannot see it. O good man! There was a
poor woman who had gold hidden somewhere in her house, but no one knew where it was. But
there was a stranger who, by expediency, speaks to the poor woman, "I shall employ you to weed
the lawn." The woman answered, "I cannot do it now, but if you show my son were the gold is
hidden, I will work for you." The man says, "I know the way; I will show it to your son." The
woman replies, "No one in my house, big or small, knows where the gold is hidden. How can
you know?" The man then digs out the hidden gold and shows it to the woman. She is glad, and
begins to respect him. O good man! The same is the case with a man's Buddha Nature. No one
can see it. It is like the gold which the poor woman possessed and yet could not locate. I now let
people see the Buddha Nature which they possess, but which was hidden by illusions. The
Tathagata shows all beings the storehouse of enlightenment, which is the cask of true gold--their
Buddha Nature.
10. Buddhism. Mahaparinirvana Sutra 214-15: Parable of the Hidden Treasure
The Purpose of the one true God, exalted be His glory, in revealing Himself unto men is to lay
bare those gems that lie hidden within the mine of their true and inmost selves.
11. Baha'i Faith. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 132
When you pursue your original mind, you should be able to hear moral laws and see divinity in
your mind's eye. You should be able to feel and touch the heart of God with your mind.
12. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 4-14-57
The Lord takes His stand upon
hearing, sight, touch, taste, smell,
and upon the mind.
He enjoys what mind and senses enjoy.
Deluded men cannot trace His course.
Only the eye of wisdom sees Him
clothed in the states of existence, going forth,
being in the body, or taking in experience.
Disciplined men can also make an effort
and see His presence in themselves.
13. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 15.9-11
Chandogya Upanishad 8.3.2 and Mahaparinirvana Sutra 214-15: Variations of this parable are found in
many Buddhist sutras--see the Parable of a Gem in the Lapel in Lotus Sutra 8, p. 537. On the original
(divine) nature buried within, cf. Isha Upanishad 15-16, p. 74; Sutra of Hui Neng 6, p. 115; Mumonkan
30, p. 116; also Kena Upanishad 1.1-2, p. 117; Luke 11.34-36, p. 535. Bhagavad Gita 15.9-11: Cf. Isha
Upanishad 15-16, p. 74; Qur'an 59:19, p. 396; Parable of the Anthill, Majjhimi Nikaya 1.142-145, p. 929.
Passions consist of conceptualizations. The ultimate non-existence of these conceptualizations
and imaginary fabrications--that is the purity that is the intrinsic nature of the mind.
Misapprehensions are passions. The ultimate absence of misapprehensions is the intrinsic nature
of mind. The presumption of self is passion. The absence of self is the intrinsic nature of mind.
14. Buddhism. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 3
"What is the gist of your teaching?" said Lao Tzu.
"The gist of it," said Confucius, "is benevolence and righteousness."
"May I ask if benevolence and righteousness belong to the inborn nature of man?" asked Lao
"Of course," said Confucius. "If the gentleman lacks benevolence, he will get nowhere; if he
lacks righteousness, he cannot even stay alive. Benevolence and righteousness are truly the
inborn nature of man. What else could they be?"
Lao Tzu said, "May I ask your definition of benevolence and righteousness?"
Confucius said, "To be glad and joyful in mind; to embrace universal love and be without
partisanship--this is the true form of benevolence and righteousness."
Lao Tzu said, "Hmm--close--except for the last part. 'Universal love'--that's a rather nebulous
ideal, isn't it? And to be without partisanship is already a kind of partisanship. Do you want to
keep the world from losing its simplicity? Heaven and earth hold fast to their constant ways, the
sun and moon to their brightness, the stars and planets to their ranks, the birds and beasts to their
flocks, the trees and shrubs to their stands. You have only to go along with Virtue in your
actions, to follow the Way in your journey, and already you will be there. Why these flags of
benevolence and righteousness, so bravely upraised, as though you were beating a drum and
searching for a lost child? Ah, you will bring confusion to the nature of man."
15. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 13
Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 3: Cf. Sutta Nipata 1072-76, p. 532; Anguttara Nikaya i.10, p. 453; Hevajra
Tantra 8.32-33, p. 200; Sutra of Hui Neng 2, p. 536; 6, p. 399; Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand
Lines 12.3, p. 402. Chuang Tzu 13: Cf. Tao Te Ching 2, p. 801; 18-19, p. 294; 38, p. 165; 81, p. 797;
Chuang Tzu 10, p. 799;, 11, p. 421; 31, p. 722; Sri Raga Ashtpadi, M.3, p. 722; Records of the Divine
Wind, p. 722.
It is like a painter
Spreading the various colors:
Delusion grasps different forms
But the elements have no distinctions.
In the elements there's no form,
And no form in the elements;
Yet apart from the elements
No form can be found.
In the mind is no painting,
In painting there is no mind;
Yet not apart from mind
Is any painting to be found.
That mind never stops,
Manifesting all forms,
Countless, inconceivably many,
Unknown to one another.
Just as a painter
Cannot know his own mind
Yet paints due to the mind,
So is the nature of all things.
Mind is like an artist,
Able to paint the worlds:
The five clusters [aggregates] are born thence;
There is nothing it does not make.
As in the mind, so is the Buddha;
As the Buddha, so living beings:
Know that Buddha and mind
Are in essence inexhaustible.
If people know the actions of mind
Create all the worlds,
They will see the Buddha
And understand Buddha's true nature.
Mind does not stay in the body,
Nor body stay in mind:
Yet it is able to perform Buddha-work
Freely, without precedent.
If people want to really know
All Buddhas of all times,
They should contemplate the nature of the cosmos:
All is but mental construction.
16. Buddhism. Garland Sutra 20
One day the Fifth Patriarch assembled all his disciples and said to them, "Go and seek for
Wisdom in your own mind and then write me a stanza about it. He who understands what the
Essence of Mind is will be given the Robe and the Dharma, and I shall make him the Sixth
Patriarch. Go away quickly. Delay not in writing the stanza, as deliberation is quite unnecessary
and of no use. The man who has realized the Essence of Mind can speak of it at once."
Having received this instruction, the disciples withdrew, but none dared to write a stanza, as they
all deferred to the head instructor Shen Hsiu... At 12 o'clock that night Shen Hsiu went secretly
with a lamp to write his stanza on the wall of the south corridor, so that the Patriarch might know
what spiritual insight he had attained. The stanza read,
Our body is the Bodhi tree,
And our mind a mirror bright,
Carefully we wipe them hour by hour,
And let no dust alight.
...When the Patriarch saw the stanza the next morning, he instructed that it be read and recited by
all the disciples, so that they might realize the Essence of Mind. At midnight he sent for Shen
Hsiu to come to the hall, and asked him if the stanza was written by him or not. "It was, Sir,"
replied Shen Hsiu. "I dare not be so vain as to expect to get the Patriarchate, but I wish Your
Holiness would kindly tell me whether my stanza shows the least grain of wisdom." "Your
stanza," replied the Patriarch, "shows that you have not yet realized the Essence of Mind. So far
you have reached the 'door of enlightenment,' but you have not yet entered it. To seek for
supreme enlightenment with such an understanding as yours can hardly be successful... You had
better go back to think it over again for a couple of days, and submit to me another stanza."
I [Hui Neng] was pounding rice when I heard a young boy reciting the stanza written by Shen
Hsiu... I asked him to lead me to the hall and show me the stanza. A petty officer who happened
to be there read it out to me. When he had finished reading, I told him that I had also composed a
stanza, and asked him to write it on the wall. "Don't despise a beginner," I said. "You should
know that the lowest class may have the sharpest wit, while the highest may be in want of
intelligence. If you slight others, you commit a very great sin." I dictated my stanza, which read,
There is no Bodhi tree,
Nor stand of a mirror bright.
Since all is void,
Where can the dust alight?
When he had written this, the crowd of disciples was overwhelmed with amazement, but the
Patriarch rubbed off the stanza with his shoe, lest jealous ones should do me injury. The next
night he invited me secretly to his room, and expounded the Diamond Sutra to me. When he
came to the sentence, "One should use one's mind in such a way that it will be free from any
attachment," I at once became thoroughly enlightened, and realized that all things in the universe
are the Essence of Mind itself. "Who would have thought," I said to the Patriarch, "that the
Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure!..." Thus, to the knowledge of no one, the Dharma was
transmitted to me at midnight, and I became the Sixth Patriarch.
17. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 1
The Perfect Way is only difficult for those who pick and choose;
Do not like, do not dislike; all will then be clear.
Make a hairbreadth difference, and Heaven and Earth are set apart;
If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.
The struggle between "for" and "against" is the mind's worst disease;
While the deep meaning is misunderstood, it is useless to meditate on Rest.
It [the Original Mind] is blank and featureless as space; It has no "too little" or "too much;"
Only because we take and reject does it seem to us not to be so.
Do not chase after entanglements as though they were real things,
Do not try to drive pain away by pretending that it is not real;
Pain, if you seek serenity in Oneness, will vanish of its own accord.
Stop all movement in order to get rest, and rest will itself be restless;
Linger over either extreme, and Oneness is forever lost.
Those who cannot attain Oneness in either case will fail;
To banish Reality is to sink deeper into the Real;
Allegiance to the Void implies denial of its voidness.
The more you talk about It, the more you think about It, the further from It you go.
Stop talking, stop thinking, and there is nothing you will not understand.
Return to the Root and you will find the Meaning;
Pursue the Light, and you will lose its source.
Look inward, and in a flash you will conquer the Apparent and the Void.
For the whirligigs of Apparent and Void all come from mistaken views;
There is no need to seek Truth; only stop having views.
Do not accept either position, examine it or pursue it;
At the least thought of "is" or "isn't" there is chaos, and the Mind is lost.
Though the two exist because of the One, do not cling to the One;
Only when no thought arises are the Dharmas without blame.
No blame, no Dharmas, no arising, no thought. ...
Let things take their own course; know that the Essence
Will neither go nor stay;
Let your nature blend with the Way and wander in it free from care.
Thoughts that are fettered turn from Truth,
Sink into the unwise habit of "not liking."
"Not liking" brings weariness of spirit; estrangements serve no purpose....
In the Dharma their are no separate dharmas (stations in life); only the foolish cleave
To their own preferences and attachments. ...
If the mind makes no distinctions all Dharmas become one.
Let the One with its mystery blot out all memory of complications.
Let the thought of the Dharmas as All-One bring you to the So-in-itself. ...
At the ultimate point, beyond which you can go no further,
You get to where there are no rules, no standards,
To where thought can accept Impartiality,
To where effect of action ceases,
Doubt is washed away, belief has no obstacle.
Nothing is left over, nothing remembered;
Space is bright, but self-illumined; no power of mind is exerted.
Nor indeed could mere thought bring us to such a place.
Nor could sense or feeling comprehend it.
It is the Truly-so, the Transcendent Sphere, where there is neither He nor I.
For swift converse with this sphere use the concept "Not Two;"
In the "Not Two" are no separate things, yet all things are included.
The wise throughout the Ten Quarters have had access to this Primal Truth;
For it is not a thing with extension in Time or Space;
A moment and an aeon for it are one.
Whether we see it or fail to see it, it is manifest always and everywhere.
The very small is as the very large when boundaries are forgotten;
The very large is as the very small when its outlines are not seen.
Being is an aspect of Non-being; Non-being is an aspect of Being.
In climes of thought where it is not so the mind does ill to dwell.
The One is none other than the All, the All none other than the One.
Take your stand on this, and the rest will follow of its own accord;
To trust in the Heart is the Not Two, the Not Two is to trust in the Heart.
I have spoken, but in vain; for what can words tell
Of things that have no yesterday, tomorrow, or today?
18. Buddhism. Seng Ts'an, On Trust in the Heart
Seng Ts'an: Seng Ts'an, the Third Patriarch of the line of Chinese Ch'an Buddhism, has left us this
quintessential statement of Ch'an or Zen enlightenment. Cf. Lankavatara Sutra 78, p. 182; Diamond
Sutra 14, p. 841; 21, p. 800; Garland Sutra 10, 799; Mumonkan 23, p. 470; 46, p. 773; Sutta Nipata 91920, p. 553; Heart Sutra, pp. 589f.
World Scripture
This and the following section describe the perfect virtues of the person who is at one with the
Absolute, who is firmly established in Truth, purity, and integrity, who is without sin or bondage to
worldly corruption, who exhibits the fullness of sanctifying grace. Such a person may be called a saint, a
sage, an arahant, a siddha, a Buddha, a perfect man, or by other names. There is remarkable unanimity
among religions as to what characterizes the realized or perfected human being.
Such a person embodies in himself the perfections of Ultimate Reality. Therefore he is truly in
the Image of God, pp. 207-13. Furthermore, the saint has overcome selfish desires and is purified
of any feelings of lust, greed, or other cravings. He is unfettered by attachment to worldly
concerns for wealth, power, or reputation. He is free from bondage to sin and does not have any
desire to commit sin: in Augustine's words, he is free to "love God and do what you will." He is
unified within himself and has dominion over himself. He has risen above the world of change
and conditions and therefore attains immortality. These characteristics of the saint are described
in the passages collected in this section.
You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
1. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 5.48
Abu Huraira reported God's Messenger as saying, "The believers whose faith is most perfect are
those who have the best character."
2. Islam. Hadith of Abu Dawud and Darimi
Matthew 5.48: In context, the perfection of God which is most stressed by Jesus is total impartiality and
unconditional love, even to the point of loving one's enemies. See Matthew 5.43-48, p. 1000.
Whose minds are well perfected in the Factors of Enlightenment, who,
without clinging, delight in the giving up of grasping, they, the
corruption-free, shining ones, have attained Nibbana even in this world.
3. Buddhism. Dhammapada 89
One should be known as true who in his heart bears truth-His impurity of falsehood cast off, his person should be washed clean.
One should be known as true who to truth is devoted in love.
4. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Asa-ki-Var, M.1, p. 468
He who has achieved it cannot either be drawn into friendship or repelled,
Cannot be benefited, cannot be harmed,
Cannot either be raised or humbled,
And for that reason is highest of all creatures under heaven.
5. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 56
God the Almighty has said..., "My servant will not approach Me with
anything dearer than that which I put on him as an obligation; and he
continues presenting Me with works of supererogation, that I may love him.
And when I love him, I am his hearing by which he hears, his sight by which
he sees, his hand by which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks."
6. Islam. 40 Hadith of an-Nawawi 38
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all
ungodliness; and if you shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and love
God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is his grace sufficient
for you, that by his grace you may be perfect in Christ; and if by the
grace of God you are perfect in Christ, you can in no way deny the power of God.
7. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Book of Mormon, Moroni 10.32-33
Dhammapada 89: The seven Factors of Enlightenment are: mindfulness, searching the scriptures,
energy, zest, tranquillity, contemplation, and evenmindedness. Cf. Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom 21112, p. 656; Bhagavad Gita 5.21-23, p. 199. Moroni 10.32-33: Cf. Ephesians 4.7-16, pp. 713f.
Rabbi Me'ir said, "Whosoever labors in the Torah for its own sake merits many things; and not
only so, but the whole world is indebted to him: he is called friend, beloved, a lover of the Allpresent, a lover of mankind; it clothes him in meekness and reverence; it fits him to become just,
pious, upright, and faithful; it keeps him far from sin, and brings him near to virtue."
8. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 6.1
In this way [the superior] man comes to resemble heaven and earth; he is not in conflict with
them. His wisdom embraces all things, and his Tao brings order into the whole world; therefore
he does not err. He is active everywhere but does not let himself be carried away. He rejoices in
heaven and has knowledge of fate, therefore he is free of care. He is content with his
circumstances and genuine in his kindness, therefore he can practice love.
9. Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.4.3
The Supreme Soul (paramatman) is free from birth, old age, and death; he is
supreme, pure, and devoid of the eight karmas; he possesses infinite
knowledge, intuition, bliss, and potency; he is indivisible,
indestructible, and inexhaustible. Besides, he is supersensuous and
unparalleled, is free from obstructions, merit, demerit, and rebirth, and
is eternal, steady, and independent.
10. Jainism. Kundakunda, Niyamasara 176-77
The Supreme Reality stands revealed in the consciousness of those who have conquered
themselves. They live in peace, alike in cold and heat, pleasure and pain, praise and blame.
They are completely filled by spiritual wisdom and have realized the Self. Having conquered
their senses, they have climbed to the summit of human consciousness. To such people a clod of
dirt, a stone, and gold are the same. They are equally disposed to family, enemies, and friends, to
those who support them and those who are hostile, to the good and the evil alike. Because they
are impartial, they rise to great heights.
11. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 6.7-9
By fullness of leadership,
the Wise Lord shall grant powerful communion
Of perfection and Immortality,
of Right, Dominion and Good Thought-To him who is a sworn friend;
to him by spirit and by actions!
Clear are these to the man of insight,
as to a knowing one by mind.
He upholds good Dominion,
and Right by words and by actions.
He, O Lord of Wisdom,
shall be Thy most helping associate!
12. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 31.21-22
I Ching, Great Commentary 1.4.3: Cf. I Ching 35, p. 209. Niyamasara 176-77: Cf. Acarangasutra 5.123-40,
p. 89; Pancastikaya 170, p. 197. Bhagavad Gita 6.7-9: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 6.5-6, p. 391; Mundaka
Upanishad 3.2.8-9, p. 586; Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.23, p. 562.
None of you truly believes until his inclination is in accordance with what I have brought.
13. Islam. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 41
A novice asked the Buddha, "What is goodness and what is greatness?" The Buddha replied, "To
follow the Way and hold to what is true is good. When the will is in conformity with the Way,
that is greatness."
14. Buddhism. Sutra of Forty-two Sections 15
Of the saying, He upon whom neither love of mastery, vanity, resentment, nor covetousness have
any hold may be called Good, the Master said, "Such a one has done what is difficult; but
whether he should be called Good I do not know."
15. Confucianism. Analects 14.2
Sincerity [Absolute Truth] is the Way of Heaven; the attainment of Sincerity is the Way of man.
He who possesses Sincerity achieves what is right without effort, understands without thinking,
and naturally and easily is centered on the Way. He is a sage.
16. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 20.18
The whole world is sustained by God's charity; and the righteous are sustained by their own
17. Judaism. Talmud, Berakot 17b
No one born of God commits sin; for God's nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is
born of God.
18. Christianity. Bible, 1 John 3.9
Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 41: Compare the hadith from Abu Nuaym, p. 208. Analects 14.2: Confucius
considered goodness to be the loftiest ideal and doubted if any human could attain to it. Cf. Analects
4.6, p. 384; Analects 7.33, p. 655; compare Mark 10.17-18, p. 655. Doctrine of the Mean 20.18: Cf.
Mencius II.A.2, p. 740; Chuang Tzu 12, p. 589. 1 John 3.9: Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73, p. 145.
One who is rich in the enlightenment will not indulge in any sinful action, since his conscience is
guided by the intellect fully illumined with Truth.
19. Jainism. Acarangasutra 1.174
The arahant monk, who has destroyed the cankers, lived the life, done what was to be done, laid
town the burden, won the goal, burst the bonds of becoming, and is freed by the fullness of
gnosis, cannot transgress nine standards: a monk in whom the cankers are destroyed cannot
deliberately take the life of any living thing; cannot, with intention to steal, take what is not
given; cannot indulge in carnal intercourse; cannot intentionally tell a lie; cannot enjoy pleasures
from memories as of yore when a householder; a monk, in whom the cankers are destroyed,
cannot go astray through desire; cannot go astray through hate; cannot go astray through
delusion; cannot go astray through fear.
20. Buddhism. Anguttara Nikaya iv.370
Clear: The name of a state achieved through auditing, or an individual who has achieved this
state. A Clear is a being who no longer has a reactive mind. A Clear is an unaberrated person and
is rational in that he forms the best possible solutions he can on the data he has and from his
Operating Thetan: It is a state of beingness. It is a being "at cause [can assume responsibility]
over matter, energy, space, time, form, and life." Operating comes from "able to operate without
dependency on things," and Thetan is [from] the Greek letter theta, which the Greeks used to
represent thought or perhaps spirit....
21. Scientology. L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 0-8, The Book of Basics
Undivided I am, undivided my soul, undivided my sight,
undivided my hearing;
undivided my in-breathing, undivided my outbreathing,
undivided my diffusive breath;
undivided the whole of me.
22. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 19.51.1
Scientology 0-8: According to Scientology, spiritual attainment is on a graduated scale. The state of Clear
is the level where an individual can function optimally, without any negative thoughts or desires--the
'reactive mind'--to confuse his reason. It is achieved through training by a process of instruction called
'auditing.' 'Operating Thetan' is an even higher stage, one of total freedom in the world of being and
able to take responsibility for all things. Atharva Veda 19.51.1: The human condition of internal conflict
and contradiction--Maitri Upanishad 6.34, p. 390; Bhagavad Gita 6.5-6, p. 391--is overcome by one in
perfect unity; cf. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.1-3, p. 387. This verse also refers to the attainment of
tranquillity and unity in meditation; cf. Bhagavad Gita 6.10-27, p. 845.
While there are no stirrings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy, the mind may be said to be in a
state of equilibrium (chung). When those feelings have been stirred, and they act in their due
degree, there ensues what may be called the state of harmony (ho). This equilibrium is the great
root from which grow all the human actings in the world, and this harmony is the universal path
which they all should pursue. Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and a
happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and
23. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 1.4-5
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
and who shall stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false,
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord,
and vindication from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek Thee,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
24. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 24.3-6
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
25. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 5.3-10
Doctrine of the Mean 1.4-5: Cf. Doctrine of the Mean 22, p. 317; Chuang Tzu 12, p. 589. Psalm 24.3-6:
The conditions enumerated here correspond to the Decalogue; see Exodus 20.1-17, p. 166. This psalm
was sung in ancient Israel by pilgrims as they reached the Temple gates, where they would proclaim
their qualifications to enter its holy precincts. Cf. Yasna 60.21, p. 721. Matthew 5.3-10: These are the
first eight of the nine Beatitudes. They proclaim God's favor to those who fear Him, who have cast off
egoism, and who aspire to do His will. 'Poor in spirit' refers to those who recognize their spiritual
poverty though they may know countless doctrines and formal teachings--cf. 1 Corinthians 1.18-25, p.
798. 'Those who mourn' expresses the fact that people in the lower classes of society who suffer grief,
poverty, and oppression are often less bound by attachments to worldly things and more able to receive
God's wisdom--cf. Matthew 19.21-24, p. 939; Luke 18.10-14, p. 902. 'The meek' are not puffed up with
pride and do not act arrogantly towards others. They are the little children to whom belongs the
Kingdom of heaven--cf. Luke 18.16-17, p. 912. 'Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness' have a
deep sense of empathy with the suffering of others and are not just concerned with their own situation.
On the 'pure in heart,' cf. 2 Timothy 2.21-22, p. 729. For Jesus' teachings on mercy, see Matthew 18.2135, p. 995, and on making peace, see Matthew 5.23-24, p. 993. To willingly accept persecution for God's
sake is the highest expression of discipleship--cf. Matthew 16.24-25, p. 875. Dhammapada 90: Cf. Sutta
Nipata 1072-76, p. 532; Anguttara Nikaya ii.37-39, p. 654.
Arjuna: Tell me of those who live established in wisdom, ever aware of the Self, O Krishna.
How do they talk? How sit? How move about?
Lord Krishna: They live in wisdom who see themselves in all and all in them, who have
renounced every selfish desire and sense craving tormenting the heart.
Neither agitated by grief nor hankering after pleasure, they live free from lust and fear and anger.
Established in meditation, they are truly wise. Fettered no more by selfish attachments, they are
neither elated by good fortune nor depressed by bad. Such are the seers.
Even as a tortoise draws in its limbs, the wise can draw in their senses at will. Aspirants abstain
from sense pleasures, but they still crave for them. These cravings all disappear when they see
the highest goal. Even of those who tread the path, the stormy senses can sweep off the mind.
They live in wisdom who subdue their senses and keep their minds ever absorbed in Me.
26. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 2.54-61
For him who has completed the journey, for him who is sorrowless, for him who from everything
is wholly free, for him who has destroyed all ties, the fever of passion exists not.
He whose corruptions are destroyed, he who is not attached to food, he who has deliverance,
which is void [of lust, hate, and ignorance] and signless [without the signs of lust, etc.], as his
object--his path, like that of the birds of the air, cannot be traced.
He whose senses are subdued, like steeds well-trained by a charioteer, he whose pride is
destroyed and is free from the corruptions--such a steadfast one even the gods hold dear.
Like the earth, a balanced and well-disciplined person resents not.... He is like a pool, unsullied
by mud; to such a balanced one, life's wanderings do not arise.
Calm is his mind, calm is his speech, calm is his action, who, rightly knowing, is wholly freed
[from defilements], perfectly peaceful and equipoised.
The man who is not credulous but truly understands the Uncreated (Nibbana), who has cut off
the links, who has put an end to occasion [of good and evil], who has eschewed all desires, he
indeed is a supreme man.
27. Buddhism. Dhammapada 90, 93-97
He who possesses virtue in abundance
May be compared to an infant.
Poisonous insects will not sting him.
Fierce beasts will not seize him.
Birds of prey will not strike him.
His bones are weak, his sinews tender, but his grasp is firm.
He does not yet know the union of male and female,
But his organ is aroused.
This means that his essence is at its height.
He may cry all day without becoming hoarse,
This means that his natural harmony is perfect.
To know harmony means to be in accord with the eternal.
To be in accord with the eternal means to be enlightened.
28. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 55
Living beyond the reach of I and mine and of pleasure and pain, patient, contented, selfcontrolled, firm in faith, with all his heart and all his mind given to me--with such a one I am in
Not frightening the world or by it frightened, he stands above the sway of elation, competition,
and fear--he is my beloved.
He is detached, pure, efficient, impartial, never anxious, selfless in all his undertakings--he is my
devotee, very dear to me.
Running not after the pleasant or away from the painful, grieving not, lusting not, but letting
things come and go as they happen--he is very dear to me.
That devotee who looks upon friend and foe with equal regard, who is not buoyed up by praise
nor cast down by blame, alike in heat and cold, pleasure and pain, free from selfish attachments,
the same in honor and dishonor, quiet, ever full, in harmony everywhere, firm in faith--such a
one is dear to me.
Those who meditate upon this immortal Truth as I have declared it, full of faith and seeking me
as life's supreme goal, are truly my devotees, and my love for them is very great.
29. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 12.14-20
He who realizes here in this world the destruction of his sorrow, who has laid the burden aside
and is emancipated [from defilements]--him I call a brahmin.
He whose knowledge is deep, who is wise, who is skilled in the right and wrong way, and who
has reached the Highest Goal--him I call a brahmin.
He who has no longings pertaining to this world or to the next, who is desireless [for himself]
and emancipated--him I call a brahmin.
He who has no longings, who, through knowledge, is free from doubts, who has gained a firm
footing in the Deathless (Nibbana)--him I call a brahmin.
Herein he who has transcended both good and evil, and the Ties [lust, hatred, delusions, pride
and false views] as well, who is sorrowless, stainless, and pure--him I call a brahmin.
He who is spotless as the moon, who is pure, serene, and unperturbed, who has destroyed craving
for becoming--him I call a brahmin.
He who has passed beyond this quagmire which is difficult to cross, the ocean of life (samsara),
this delusion, who has crossed over and gone beyond; who is meditative, free from craving and
doubts; who, clinging to naught, has attained Nibbana--him I call a brahmin.
The fearless, the noble, the hero, the great sage, the conqueror, the desireless, the cleanser [of
defilements], the enlightened--him I call a brahmin.
30. Buddhism. Dhammapada 402-22
Tao Te Ching 55: The little child is totally spontaneous and acts without any artifice. This spontaneity
means that the child is fully expressing his original nature; this is the Taoist ideal. Cf. Tao Te Ching 10, p.
890; 20, p. 608; 28, p. 912; Atharva Veda 6.121.4, p. 531.
Whoever in his self the Supreme Being has lodged,
His name is truly the servant of God:
On his vision has flashed the Lord that is also within the self.
This by utter humility has he obtained.
The servant who ever realizes the Lord to be near,
At the divine Portal finds acceptance.
By divine grace falling on His servant,
Comes to him full realization.
To be with all, yet in his self unattached-Such a way, says Nanak, to God's servant is known.
One that the Lord's command in mind cherishes,
Is truly to be called Jivan-mukta (liberated while living).
To such a one are joy and sorrow alike;
Ever in joy, never feels he sorrow.
Gold and a clod of earth to him are alike,
As also nectar and foul-tasting poison.
To him are honor and dishonor alike;
Alike also pauper and prince.
One that such a way practices,
Says Nanak, a Jivan-mukta may be called.
31. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri Sukhmani 9, M.5, p. 275
Dhammapada 402-22: Vv. 402, 403, 410-414, 422. These verses, taken from the concluding chapter of
the Dhammapada, describe the ideal of the arhat--one who has realized the highest goal. But they also
make a political statement for the equality of all people regardless of race or caste. Instead of being a
brahmin by birth, any person can become a brahmin--one who knows Brahman--by attaining
enlightenment through the path laid out by the Buddha. Cf. Dhammapada 393, 396, p. 279.
The servants of the All-merciful are those who walk in the earth modestly and who, when the
ignorant address them, say, "Peace;" who pass the night prostrate to their Lord and standing; who
say, "Our Lord, turn Thou from us the chastisement of Gehenna; surely its chastisement is
torment most terrible; evil it is as a lodging place and an abode"; who, when they expend, are
neither prodigal nor parsimonious, but between that is a just stand; who call not upon another
god with God, nor slay the soul God has forbidden except by right, neither fornicate....
And those who bear not false witness and, when they pass by idle talk, pass by with dignity;
who, when they are reminded of the signs of their Lord, fall not down thereat deaf and blind;
who say, "Our Lord, give us refreshment of our wives and seed, and make us a model to the
godfearing." Those shall be recompensed with the highest heaven, for that they endured
patiently, and they shall receive therein a greeting and "Peace." Therein they shall dwell forever;
fair is it as a lodging place and an abode.
32. Islam. Qur'an 25.63-76
In order to know Shinto, the people must first be united with the mind of the kami.... Whoever
would serve the kami in worship must cast off his polluted mind, and stand with pure, bright
mind before the deity both morning and evening, serving the kami warmly and with utmost
propriety and awe, in order to accord with the august mind of the divine.
With propriety never ending, the utmost in truth, without a single falsehood, correct and rectified
without a single error, pure and without a spot of pollution, without selfish desires, and thus not
greedy of personal gain, full of love and affection. Such is the mind of the kami.
With the foremost quality of truth, the mind of the divine is purity and honesty. Since this is so,
the emperor, too, has been in accord with these virtues since ancient times to the present.
Accordingly, the people as well should follow the emperor's example of purity and honesty,
making their own minds earnest, meek, and gallant.
33. Shinto. Ekken Kaibara, Divine Injunctions
Qur'an 25.63-76: Vv. 63-68, 72-76. Cf. Qur'an 6.151-53, p. 168; 8.2-4, p. 751; and 17.23-38. Divine
Injunctions: The Emperor of Japan has traditionally been regarded as ikigami--a living god. In life he is
already manifesting the kami nature, which ordinary people will manifest only after death. Many of the
founders of the new religions in Japan are equally seen as ikigami. Their words and actions have
inherent authority and ultimacy. On the responsibility of rulers to manifest the most perfect character,
see Doctrine of the Mean 33, p. 1034; Analects 12.19; Bhagavad Gita 3.20-21; Anguttara Nikaya ii.75, p.
1072; and related passages.
Mahamati, when the bodhisattvas face and perceive the happiness of the Samadhi of perfect
tranquilization, they are moved with the feeling of love and sympathy owing to their original
vows [made for the salvation of all beings, saying, "So long as they do not attain Nirvana, I will
not attain it myself"] and they become aware of the part they are to perform as regards the
inexhaustible vows. Thus, they do not enter Nirvana. But the fact is that they are already in
Nirvana, because in them there is no rising of discrimination. With them the discrimination of
grasped and grasping no more takes place; as they recognize that there is nothing in the world
but what is seen of the Mind itself, they have done away with the thought of discrimination
concerning all things. They have abandoned adhering to and discriminating based upon the
faculties of cognition (citta), analysis (manas), and judgment (manovijnana), and external
objects, and self-nature. However, they have not given up the things promoting the cause of
Buddhism. Because of their attachment to the inner insight which belongs to the stage of
Tathagatahood, whatever they do all issues from this transcendental knowledge.
34. Buddhism. Lankavatara Sutra 80
What do I mean by a True Man? The True Man of ancient times did not rebel against want, did
not grow proud in plenty, and did not plan his affairs. Being like this, he could commit an error
and not regret it, could meet with success and not make a show. Being like this, he could climb
the high places and not be frightened, could enter the water and not get wet, could enter the fire
and not get burned. His knowledge was able to climb all the way up to the Way like this.
The True Man of ancient times slept without dreaming and woke without care; he ate without
savoring and his breath came from deep inside. The True Man breathes with his heels; the mass
of men breathe with their throats. They, crushed and bound down, gasp out their words as though
they were retching. Deep in their passions and desires, they are shallow in the workings of
The True Man of ancient times knew nothing of loving life, knew nothing of hating death. He
emerged without delight; he went back in without a fuss. He came briskly, he went briskly, and
that was all. He did not forget where he began; he did not try to find out where he would end. He
received something and took pleasure in it; he forgot about it and handed it back again. This is
what I call not using the mind to repel the Way, not using man to help out Heaven. This is what I
call the True Man.
35. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 6
Lankavatara Sutra 80: This describes the bodhisattva who has taken a vow not to enter Nirvana until he
has rescued all beings from suffering--cf. Sikshasamuccaya 280-81, pp. 979f, and Garland Sutra 23, p.
980. His attitude is so totally without self that he is, according to this sutra, already in Nirvana. Thus
Nirvana is a state of being that can be lived out in the world; cf. Mulamadhyamaka Karika 25, pp. 91f;
Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 2, p. 965.
World Scripture
When the individual realizes Truth and fulfills God's purpose for his life, he comes to embody universal
love. He delights in the well-being of others and selflessly works for their benefit. Love or Compassion,
being the core of Ultimate Reality, is expressed in the love of the saint who can rise above self-centered
attachments and desires. It is true love, love that is totally committed to the welfare of the other. It is
love that is universal, overcoming the ordinary tendency to self-centeredness or favoritism for one's
The ideal of love described in this section is rare in the world. Such love requires the foundation
of integrity, truthfulness, and unity with the Absolute as described in the previous section on
Perfection. Other passages which describe love as an ethic can be found under Loving Kindness,
pp. 826-30.
This section opens with several well-known passages that describe human love as grounded in
divine love: 1 John 4 and 1 Corinthians 13 of the Christian Bible, from the Bhagavad Gita, and
the Buddhist Metta Sutta. The following passages describe divine love as universal, flowing
impartially to all beings, insentient to likes and dislikes.
The last three passages discuss true love from the standpoint of love in the family. On the one
hand, as love for children and love for spouse are the most intense of human loves, such love is
the standard that should be universally applied to all. Thus a Buddhist sutra states that the
bodhisattva loves everyone as though they were a loved only child. On the other hand, even love
of family often succumbs to partiality; as the Confucian passage from the Doctrine of the Mean
cautions, it is not true love if the personal foundation is not right.
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows
God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.
No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in
us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and
he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love
God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen,
cannot love God whom he has not seen.
1. Christianity. Bible, 1 John 4.7-8, 12-13, 18-20
The infinite joy of touching the Godhead is easily attained by those who are free from the burden
of evil and established within themselves. They see the Self in every creature and all creation in
the Self. With consciousness unified through meditation, they see everything with an equal eye.
I am ever present into those who have realized Me in every creature. Seeing all life as My
manifestation, they are never separated from Me. They worship Me in the hearts of all, and all
their actions proceed from Me. Wherever they may live, they abide in Me.
When a person responds to the joys and sorrows of others as if they were his own, he has
attained the highest state of spiritual union.
2. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 6.28-32
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging
cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I
have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I
have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not
insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in
the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for
knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but
when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I
thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For
now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand
fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the
greatest of these is love.
3. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 13
1 John 4.7-20: Cf. Sotah 31a, p. 71; John 17.12-13, p. 271. Bhagavad Gita 6.28-32: Cf. Bhagavad Gita
3.15-26, p. 976. 1 Corinthians 13: Cf. Abot 2.13;
He who is skilled in welfare, who wishes to attain that calm state (Nibbana), should act thus: He
should be able, upright, perfectly upright, of noble speech, gentle, and humble. Contented, easily
supported, with few wants and simple tastes, with senses calmed, discreet, not impudent, not
greedily attached to families....
[He should always hold this thought,] "May all beings be happy and secure, may their hearts be
wholesome! Whatever living beings there be: feeble or strong, tall, stout or medium, short, small
or large, without exception; seen or unseen, those dwelling far or near, those who are born or
those yet unborn--may all beings be happy!"
Let none deceive another, nor despise any person whatsoever in any place. Let him not wish any
harm to another out of anger or ill-will. Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk
of her own life, even so, let him cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings. Let his thoughts
of boundless love pervade the whole world: above, below, and across without any obstruction,
without any hatred, without any enmity. Whether he stands, walks, sits or lies down, as long as
he is awake, he should develop this mindfulness. This, they say, is the noblest living here.
4. Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 143-151, Metta Sutta
Now, I am jealous of no one,
Now that I have attained unto the Society of the Saints:
I am estranged with no one: nor is anyone a stranger to me,
Indeed, I am the friend of all.
All that God does, with that I am pleased;
This is the wisdom I have received from the saints.
Yea, the One God pervades all: and, seeing Him,
I am wholly in bloom.
5. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Kanara, M.5, p. 1299
Compassion is a mind that savors only
Mercy and love for all sentient beings.
6. Buddhism. Nagarjuna, Precious Garland 437
That one I love who is incapable of ill will, who is friendly and compassionate.
7. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 12.13
If, like a cracked gong, you silence yourself, you have already attained Nibbana: no
vindictiveness will be found in you.
8. Buddhism. Dhammapada 134
Oracle of the Kami of Kasuga, p. 969; Precious Garland 283, p. 860; Sun Myung Moon, 4-18-77, p. 355.
Metta Sutta: This is the classic Buddhist passage on loving kindness. Cf. Dhammapada 368, p. 969;
Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 321-22, p. 971; Garland Sutra 23, p. 1000; 23, p. 980;
Sikshasamuccaya 280-81, pp. 979f.
A man is a true Muslim when no other Muslim has to fear anything from either his tongue or his
9. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari
To the addict, nothing is like his dope;
to the fish, nothing is like water:
But those immersed in the love of God feel love for all things.
10. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Wadhans, M.1, p. 557
Then that do we choose, O Lord of Wisdom, O beautiful Truth, that do we think, do we speak,
and do we practice, which shall be best of the actions of living ones for both worlds!
11. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 35.3
Hillel said, "Be of the disciples of Aaron--one that loves peace, that loves mankind, and brings
them nigh to the Law."
12. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 1:12
Have benevolence towards all living beings, joy at the sight of the virtuous, compassion and
sympathy for the afflicted, and tolerance towards the indolent and ill-behaved.
13. Jainism. Tattvarthasutra 7.11
Of the adage, Only a Good Man knows how to like people, knows how to dislike them,
Confucius said, "He whose heart is in the smallest degree set upon Goodness will dislike no
14. Confucianism. Analects 4.3-4
Strong One, make me strong.
May all beings look on me with the eye of friend!
May I look on all beings with the eye of friend!
May we look on one another with the eye of friend!
15. Hinduism. Yajur Veda 36.18
Wadhans 1.1: This is a good test of whether an emotion is godly love or ordinary love. Godly love is allembracing, while ordinary love focuses on one object exclusively, thereby inciting jealousy. Godly love
seeks to benefit others, while ordinary love is tinged with selfish desire. Cf. Asa-ki-Var 21.1, p. 1000; Sun
Myung Moon, 9-11-77, p. 274.
He lets his mind pervade one quarter of the world with thoughts of love, and so the second, and
so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above, below, around, and
everywhere, does he continue to pervade with the heart of love, far-reaching, exalted, beyond
measure. Just as a mighty trumpeter makes himself heard--and that without difficulty--in all the
four directions; even so of all things that have the shape of life there is not one that he passes by
or leaves aside, but regards them all with mind set free, and deep-felt love. Verily this is the way
to a state of union with Brahma.
16. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya xiii.76-77, Tevigga Sutta
All humanity should walk the path of love. True peace and a world of joy cannot be realized
without love. Happiness is the same. Can you feel happiness alone? You can only feel true
happiness when you are able to have a reciprocal relationship of love with another.
Freedom is the same. You cannot experience freedom alone; it can only be achieved through
love and within love. You don't feel tired in the place of true love. No matter how exhausted you
are, if you are intoxicated with love and you burst into tears out of love then your tiredness will
suddenly disappear. When you feel true love you don't feel hungry or tired. Also you do not feel
afraid of death.
17. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 4-25-81
What is meant by saying that the regulation of the family depends on the cultivation of the
personal life is this: Men are partial toward those for whom they have affection and whom they
love, partial toward those whom they despise and dislike, partial toward those whom they fear
and revere, partial toward those whom they pity and for whom they have compassion, and partial
toward those whom they do not respect. Therefore there are few people in the world who know
what is bad in those whom they love and what is good in those whom they dislike. Hence it is
said, People do not know the faults of their sons and do not know [are not satisfied with] the
bigness of their seedlings. This is what is meant by saying that if the personal life is not
cultivated, one cannot regulate his family.
18. Confucianism. Great Learning 8
If you step on a stranger's foot in the marketplace, you apologize at length for your carelessness.
If you step on your older brother's foot, you give him an affectionate pat, and if you step on your
parent's foot, you know you are already forgiven. So it is said, "Perfect ritual makes no
distinction of persons; perfect righteousness takes no account of things [wealth]; perfect
knowledge does not scheme; perfect benevolence knows no [partiality in] affection; perfect trust
dispenses with gold."
19. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 23
Great Learning 8: Confucianism teaches that one should be partial towards one's own family and
relatives--yet only as the starting point for a social ethic which is an expansion of family relations--cf.
Mencius I.A.7, p. 971. To counter the tendency of partiality to become corrupt, another aspect to
Confucian teaching is the search for a universal objective basis for action in the world: the cultivation of
personal virtue. Each person should have a foundation of benevolence within himself or herself in order
that love--both to family and to strangers--may be correct. Cf. Mencius II.A.6, p. 216; Mencius VII.B.6, p.
968. Chuang Tzu 23: Perfect action is spontaneous, heartfelt, trusting, and intimate; it dispenses with
formalities. It can only exist where there is true love. Cf. Tao Te Ching 49, p. 1000.
The bodhisattva, the great being, having practiced compassion, sympathy, and joy, attains the
stage of the best-loved only son. For example, the father and mother greatly rejoice as they see
their son at peace. The same is the case with the bodhisattva who abides in this stage: he sees all
beings just as the parents see their only son. Seeing him practicing good, he greatly rejoices. So
we call this stage the best-loved.
For example, the father and mother are worried at heart as they see their son ill. Commiseration
poisons their heart; the mind cannot part with the illness. So it is with the bodhisattva, the great
being, who abides in this stage. As he sees beings bound up in the illness of illusion, his heart
aches. He is worried as in the case of an only son. Blood comes out from all pores of the skin.
That is why we call this stage as that of an only son.
A child picks up earth, dirty things, tiles, stones, old bones, pieces of wood and puts them into
his mouth, at which the father and mother, apprehensive of the harms that might arise thereby,
take the child with the left hand and with the right take these out. The same goes with the
bodhisattva: he sees that all beings are not grown up to the stage of law body and that non-good
is done in body, speech, and mind. The bodhisattva sees, and with the hand of wisdom has it
extracted. He does not wish that man should repeat birth and death, receiving thereby sorrow and
When a father and mother part with their beloved son as the son dies, their hearts so ache that
they feel that they themselves should die together with him. The same is the case with the
bodhisattva: as he sees a benighted person fall into hell, he himself desires to be born there, too.
[He thinks,] "Perhaps the man, as he experiences the pain, may gain a moment of repentance
where I can speak to him of the Law in various ways and enable him to gain a thought of good."
For the father and mother of an only son, in sleep or while awake, or while walking, standing,
sitting, or reclining, their minds always think of the son. If he does wrong, they give kindly
advice and lead the boy that he does not do evil any more. The same is the case of the
bodhisattva: as he sees beings fall into the realms of hell, hungry ghosts and animals, or sees
them doing good and evil in the world of man and in heaven, his mind is ever upon them and not
apart from them. He may see them doing all evil, yet he does not become angry or punish with
evil intent.
20. Buddhism. Mahaparinirvana Sutra 470-71
Mahaparinirvana Sutra 470-71: The love of a mother for her only child, as developed in this Mahayana
text as the way of the bodhisattva, is similar to the Theravada concept of compassion as set forth in the
Metta Sutta (above). Cf. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 5, p. 495. The 'stage of law body' is the complete
realization of Buddhahood, when one is totally identical with Reality, the Dharmakaya.
World Scripture
CHAPTER 4: The Purpose Of Life in the
Family and Society
The Family
Parents and Children
Husband and Wife
Unity and Community
The People of God
The Ideal Society
In addition to a vision of holiness or perfection for the individual, all religions recognize that
individuals are nurtured and in turn give of themselves within the context of family and
community. To participate in the family, fulfilling the roles of parent and child, husband and
wife, grandparent, cousin, etc., is, many would say, essential to being human. The same can be
said of the social roles and responsibilities which people undertake as they constitute
communities, nations, and even the family of all humankind.
In considering the social dimension of the purpose of life, we are informed by the Confucian
doctrine of the Five Relations--between ruler and subject, father and son, husband and wife,
elder and younger brothers, and between friends. Summarized in the all-encompassing virtue of
filial piety, this ideal finds support in most religious traditions. We are also informed by the first
three of the Four Ends of Man (Purushartha) in Hinduism: social ethics (dharma), material gain
(artha), and pleasure (kama). We find principles of family and social life at the center of the
divine law given to Moses and the Shariah of Islam.
These expressions of social morality do not simply sanctify existing customs and norms. At their
best, they teach a spiritual ideal by which the family and society may prosper and be upheld in
divine grace. In addition, they contain teachings which promote equality beyond race, class,
gender, or creed, and affirm the dignity of all members of society. We can even find in them a
common vision of the family of humankind. Thus the world's religions have been and continue
to be wellsprings for humanity's perennial hopes for world peace.
World Scripture
We may regard the family as having two axes: a vertical axis running through the generations from
grandparents to parents to children, and a horizontal axis including members of the same generation:
husband and wife, brothers and sisters. Furthermore, the ultimate vertical axis is the relation between
the family and Ultimate Reality, recognizing God as the Ultimate Parent. Happiness and harmony in the
family are thus directly related to the good character, truthfulness, and God-directedness of the
individual: of the parents first and also of other family members. Good family relations, in turn, are
productive of good citizens who are able to apply the lessons of family relations to relations with their
elders and superiors, co-workers, and subordinates, in school, business, government, and other
community affairs. The passages in this section deal with the various relations in the family all together.
The following two sections gather passages on the vertical axis of parents and children and the
horizontal axis of husband and wife, respectively.
Supporting one's father and mother, cherishing wife and children and a peaceful occupation; this
is the greatest blessing.
1. Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 262
Lord, give us joy in our wives and children, and make us models for the God-fearing.
2. Islam. Qur'an 25.74
May in this family discipline overcome indiscipline, peace discord,
charity miserliness, devotion arrogance, the truth-spoken word the false
spoken word which destroys the holy order.
3. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 60.5
There are five relations of utmost importance under Heaven...
between prince and minister; between father and son; between husband and wife;
between elder and younger brothers; and between friends.
4. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 20.8
What are "the things which men consider right"? Kindness on the part of
the father, and filial duty on that of the son; gentleness on the part
of the elder brother, and obedience on that of the younger;
righteousness on the part of the husband, and submission on that of the
wife; kindness on the part of elders, and deference on that of juniors;
with benevolence on the part of the ruler, and loyalty on that of the
minister;--these ten are the things which men consider to be right.
5. Confucianism. Book of Ritual 7.2.19
Natural mildness should be there in the family. Observance of the vows leads to mildness....
Right belief should there be amongst family members. Crookedness and deception cause
unhappiness in the family. Straightforwardness and honesty in one's body, speech, and mental
activities lead the family to an auspicious path. Purity, reverence, ceaseless pursuit of
knowledge, charity, removal of obstacles that threaten equanimity, service to others -- these
make the family happy.
6. Jainism. Tattvarthasutra 6.18-24
The moral life of man may be likened to traveling to a distant place: one must start from the
nearest stage. It may also be likened to ascending a height [of public responsibility]: one must
begin from the lowest step [one's family]. The Book of Songs says,
When wives and children and their sires are one,
'Tis like the harp and lute in unison.
When brothers live in concord and at peace
The strain of harmony shall never cease.
The lamp of happy union lights the home,
And bright days follow when the children come.
Confucius, commenting on the above, remarked, "In such a state of things what more satisfaction
can parents have?"
7. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 15.2-3
Thus I have heard, the Buddha was once staying near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Wood at the
Squirrels' Feeding Ground. Now at this time young Sigala, a householder's son, rising betimes,
went forth from Rajagaha, and with wet hair and wet garments and clasped hands uplifted, paid
worship to the several quarters of the earth and sky: to the east, south, west, and north, to the
nadir and the zenith.
And the Exalted One early that morning dressed himself, took bowl and robe and entered
Rajagaha seeking alms. Now he saw young Sigala worshipping and spoke to him thus,
"Why, young householder, do you worship the several quarters of earth and sky?"
"Sir, my father, when he was dying, said to me: 'Dear son, you should worship the quarters of the
earth and sky.' So I, sir, honoring my father's word, rise and worship in this way."
"But in the religion of an educated man, the six quarters should not be worshipped thus."
"How then, sir, in the religion of an educated man, should the six quarters be worshipped? It
would be an excellent thing if the Exalted One would so teach me the correct way..."
"How, O young householder, does the educated man serve the six quarters? The following
should be looked upon as the six quarters: parents as the east, teachers as the south, wife and
children as the west, friends and companions as the north, servants as the nadir, and religious
leaders as the zenith.
"In five ways should a child minister to his parents as the eastern quarter: 'Once supported by
them, I will now be their support; I will perform duties incumbent on them; I will keep up the
lineage and tradition of my family; I will make myself worthy of my heritage.'
"In five ways parents thus ministered to, as the eastern quarter, by their child, show their love for
him: They restrain him from vice, they exhort him to virtue, they train him to a profession, they
contract a suitable marriage for him, and in due time they hand over to him his inheritance.
"Thus is the eastern quarter protected by him and made safe and secure.
"In five ways should pupils minister to their teachers as the southern quarter: by respectfully
greeting them, by waiting upon them, by eagerness to learn, by personal service, and by
attentiveness to their teaching.
"In five ways do teachers, thus ministered to as the southern quarter by their pupils, love their
pupil: They train him in what they have been trained; they make him hold fast to moral precepts;
they thoroughly instruct him in the lore of every subject; they speak well of him among his
friends and companions; they counsel him for his safety and benefit.
"Thus is the southern quarter protected by him and made safe and secure.
"In five ways should a wife as western quarter be ministered to by her husband: by respect, by
courtesy, by faithfulness, by handing over authority to her, by providing her with adornment.
"In five ways does the wife, ministered to by her husband as the western quarter, love him: Her
duties are well performed, she is hospitable to their relatives, she is faithful, she watches over the
wages and goods which he brings home, she discharges all her business with skill and industry.
"Thus is the western quarter protected by him and made safe and secure.
"In five ways should one minister to his friends and companions as the northern quarter: by
generosity, courtesy, and benevolence, by treating them as he treats himself, and by being as
good as his word.
"In five ways do his friends and familiars, thus ministered to as the northern quarter, love him:
They protect him when he is off his guard, and on occasions guard his property; they become a
refuge in danger; they do not forsake him in his troubles; and they show consideration for his
"Thus is the northern quarter protected by him and made safe and secure.
"In five ways does a noble master minister to his servants and employees as the nadir: by
assigning them work according to their strength, by supplying them with food and wages, by
tending them in sickness, by sharing with them unusual delicacies, by granting them leave at
"In five ways, thus ministered to by their master, do servants and employees love him: They rise
before him, they lie down to rest after him, they are content with their wages, they do their work
well, and they carry about his praise and good fame.
"Thus is the nadir by him protected and made safe and secure.
"In five ways should the layman minister to saints, priests, and religious leaders as the zenith: by
affection in act and speech and mind, by keeping open house to them, and by supplying their
temporal needs.
"Ministered to as the zenith, monks, priests, and religious leaders show their love for the layman
in six ways: They restrain him from evil, they exhort him to good, they love him with kindly
thoughts, they teach him what he has not heard, they correct and purify what he has heard, they
reveal to him the way of heaven.
"Thus by him is the zenith protected and made safe and secure."
8. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya iii.185-91, Sigalovada Sutta
Doctrine of the Mean 20.8: These are the Confucian Five Relations. They are further explicated in the
following passage. Book of Ritual 7.2.19: Cf. I Ching 37, p. 260. Tattvarthasutra 6.18.24: Cf.
Acarangasutra 1.35-37, p. 739; Tattvarthasutra 9.6, p. 169.
World Scripture
In a family, parents are responsible for the welfare of the children and offer the children an embracing,
unconditional love that overlooks and compensates for their weaknesses. Through their example, they
teach their children the basic values and attitudes which they will carry throughout life. The children, in
turn, respect their parents as the source of their very being, as their teachers, and as the ones who have
labored and sacrificed for their sakes. When they are grown, they should be responsible to care for their
parents in their old age. These relative responsibilities should not be undertaken as a matter of duty, but
rather emerge from the spontaneous promptings of parental love and the children's gratitude and
respect. This is the vertical axis defining relations of love and respect between people of unequal status
and different responsibilities.
Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not depart from it.
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Proverbs 22.6
He who spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
2. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Proverbs 13.24
You can only coil a fish when it is fresh.
3. African Traditional Religions. Nupe Proverb (Nigeria)
And remember when Luqman said to his son by way of instruction, "O my dear son! Establish
worship and enjoin kindness and forbid iniquity,
and persevere, whatever may befall you. Lo! that is the steadfast heart of things."
4. Islam. Qur'an 31.17
Nupe Proverb: In other words, you must train a child from infancy when his character is pliable; as an
adult his character is already set.
As the child, according to its natural disposition, commits thousands of faults,
The father instructs and slights, but again hugs him to his bosom.
5. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sorath, M.5
Attend strictly to the commands of your parents and the instructions of your teachers. Serve your
leader with diligence; be upright of heart; eschew falsehood; and be diligent in study; that you
may conform to the wishes of the heavenly spirit.
6. Shinto. Oracle of Temmangu
Children are the clothes of a man.
7. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)
He established a testimony in Jacob,
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children;
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God,
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments.
8. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 78.5-7
Do not despise the breath of your fathers,
But draw it into your body.
That our roads may reach to where the life-giving road of our sun father comes out,
That, clasping one another tight,
Holding one another fast,
We may finish our roads together;
That this may be, I add to your breath now.
To this end:
May my father bless you with life;
May your road reach to Dawn Lake,
May your road be fulfilled.
9. Native American Religions. Zuni Prayer
Oracle of Temmangu: Temmangu is a shrine in Osaka. Its patron deity, Tenjin, who was in life the scholar
Michizane Sugawara (845-903), is venerated as a god of education and literature. Schoolchildren will buy
amulets of Tenjin for luck at the time of school entrance examinations. Yoruba Proverb: This means that
a man is assessed by the character of his children. Psalm 78.5-7: Cf. Yebamot 62, p. 258. Zuni Prayer:
This prayer is spoken at the close of the novice's initiation. Doctrine of the Mean 20.8: These are the
Confucian Five Relations. They are further explicated in the following passage. Book of Ritual 7.2.19: Cf. I
Ching 37, p. 260. Tattvarthasutra 6.18.24: Cf. Acarangasutra 1.35-37, p. 739; Tattvarthasutra 9.6, p. 169.
Brethren, a new child is born.
While in the uterus it was a woman's thing;
Safely delivered, it is everybody's child, a native of Nibo, a Nigerian.
He shall grow under the care of his parents;
When mature he will look after his parents.
He shall listen to the good advice of his parents,
He ought not to obey wrong things.
We want truly good children, not any thing at all:
He will grow up industrious, imitating father, mother, and other relations.
No evil child!
Instead of a thief, may it pass away through miscarriage.
The name of the baby is "Chinenye."
10. African Traditional Religions. Igbo Naming Ceremony (Nigeria)
There was always, too, a Pipe child--a girl, unless the keeper had no daughters....
"When I was the Pipe child, whenever my mother took the Pipe bundle outside of the lodge, I
took the tripod out after her. I was told how to set the tripod when the camp was about to move,
with two of the legs close together and the third far out. Whenever my father made smudge with
pine needles, he would give me some and I would chew them and would hold my hands over the
smudge. Then I would rub my left palm up to my right arm, my right palm up to my left arm, and
then both palms from the top of my head down the sides of my neck and down my breast...
Whenever while I was the Pipe child I got sick my father would put pine needles on me, and then
he would take down the bundle and put it on my parents' bed, and would say to me, "Put your
arms around your brother [the Pipe] and pray to your brother so you may get well." [My father]
the Pipe- keeper and his wife claim the Feathered Pipe as their son and tell their children that the
Pipe is their brother.... Of course the Pipe was not human, but because I was a baby when my
father got it I grew up with it and thought just as much of it as of my own blood relatives.
When my father transferred the Pipe to Sitting High I was outside playing. When I was coming
home I saw the bundle at Sitting High's door, and when I saw it I started to cry, and when I saw
my father I said to him, "Why did you give my Pipe away?" It was just like a person leaving. I
was lonesome for it, and felt just as if I had lost a relative or friend. All through my life I have
felt the same toward it. All through my life I have made it a point to be present at any Feathered
Pipe ceremony. And whenever I went to any ceremony, I would bring something for it....
My father used to tell me, "This Pipe was given by the Supreme Being through Bha'a; the
Supreme Being is the father of the Pipe."
11. Native American Religions. Gros Ventres Tradition of the Pipe Child (Montana)
Igbo Naming Ceremony: This prayer was uttered by an elder from the village of Nibo at the naming of
his grandson, Chinenye. Notice the phrase 'it is everybody's child', which indicates that raising children is
a community responsibility. Gros Ventres Tradition of the Pipe Child: This testimony is an example of
how, in traditional societies, religious education of the young is integral to daily life.
This I ask Thee. Tell me truly, Lord.
Who fashioned esteemed piety in addition to rule?
Who made a son respectful in his attentiveness to his father?
12. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 44.7
The gentleman works upon the trunk. When that is firmly set up, the Way grows. And surely
proper behavior towards parents and elder brothers is the trunk of Goodness?
13. Confucianism. Analects 1.2
In the Kingdom of Heaven, true love is fulfilled centered on parental love.... The family is the
original base [of true love] and the foundation of eternity.
14. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 9-30-69
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your
God gives you.
15. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Exodus 20.12
There are three partners in man, God, father, and mother. When a man honors his father and
mother, God says, "I regard it as though I had dwelt among them and they had honored me."
16. Judaism. Talmud, Kiddushin 30b
"Do not neglect the [sacrificial] works due to the gods and the fathers!
Let your mother be to you like unto a god! Let your father be to you
like unto a god! Let your teacher be to you like unto a god!"
17. Hinduism. Taittiriyaka Upanishad 1.11.2
Those who wish to be born in [the Pure Land] of Buddha... should act filially towards their
parents and support them, and should serve and respect their teachers and elders.
18. Buddhism. Meditation on Buddha Amitayus 27
Thy Lord has decreed... that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age
in your lifetime, do not say to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in
terms of honor. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say, "My Lord!
bestow on them Thy mercy even as they cherished me in childhood."
19 Islam. Qur'an 17.23
One companion asked, "O Apostle of God! Who is the person worthiest of my consideration?"
He replied, "Your mother." He asked again, "And second to my mother?" The Prophet said,
"Your mother." The companion insisted, "And then?" The Messenger of God said, "After your
mother, your father."
20. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim
Analects 1.2: Cf. Book of History 5.9, p. 466.
Now filial piety is the root of all virtue, and the stem out of which grows all moral teaching...
Our bodies--to every hair and bit of skin--are received by us from our parents, and we must not
presume to injure or wound them: this is the beginning of filial piety. When we have established
our character by the practice of the filial course, so as to make our name famous in future ages,
and thereby glorify our parents: this is the end of filial piety. It commences with the service of
parents; it proceeds to the service of the ruler; it is completed by the establishment of [good]
21. Confucianism. Classic on Filial Piety 1
Son, why do you quarrel with your father,
Due to him you have grown to this age?
It is a sin to argue with him.
22. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sarang, M.4, p. 1200
Rama, "How can I transgress this command of my mother and my father? It is for thee to occupy
the throne in Ayodhya, the throne that all revere, and for me to live in the Dandaka Forest,
wearing robes of bark! Having spoken thus, the great King Dasaratha made this division of
duties in the presence of the people and then ascended to heaven. The word of that virtuous
monarch is our law! It is for thee to enjoy the kingdom given thee by our sire, and, taking refuge
in the Dandaka Forest for fourteen years, I shall carry out the part assigned to me by my
magnanimous sire. That which my high-souled father... has directed me to do, I regard as my
supreme felicity, not the dominion of all the worlds."
23. Hinduism. Ramayana, Ayodhya Kanda 101
We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain
did she give him birth. The carrying of the child to his weaning is thirty months. At length, when
he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, "O my Lord! Grant me that I
may be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents,
and that I may work righteousness such as You may approve; and be gracious to me in my issue.
Truly have I turned to You and truly do I bow to You in Islam."
Such are they from whom We shall accept the best of their deeds and pass by their ill deeds: they
shall be among the Companions of the Garden: a promise of truth, which was made to them.
Paradise, holding the true promise which has been given them.
24. Islam. Qur'an 46.15-16
Ramayana: At the insistence of Rama's stepmother, his father the king decreed that upon his death,
Rama the heir apparent would be exiled to wander in the forest for fourteen years while his stepbrother
Bharata was to rule as king. Though Bharata himself, along with all the populace, implored Rama to take
his rightful place as king, Rama refused out of filial loyalty to his departed father. Cf. Ramayana, Ayodhya
Kanda 109, pp. 708f.
Brethren, one can never repay two persons, I declare. What two? Mother and father.
Even if one should carry about his mother on one shoulder and his father on the other, and so
doing should live a hundred years; and if he should support them, anointing them with unguents,
kneading and rubbing their limbs, and they meanwhile should even void their excrements upon
him--even so could he not repay his parents. Moreover, if he should establish his parents in
supreme authority, in the absolute rule over this mighty earth abounding in the seven treasures-not even thus could he repay his parents. Why not? Brethren, parents do much for their children;
they bring them up, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world. However, brethren,
whoso incites his unbelieving parents, settles and establishes them in the faith; whoso incites his
immoral parents, settles and establishes them in morality; whoso incites his stingy parents, settles
and establishes them in liberality; whoso incites his foolish parents, settles and establishes them
in wisdom--such a one, just by so doing, does repay, does more than repay what is due to his
25. Buddhism. Anguttara Nikaya i.61
My father, thank you for petting me;
My mother, thank you for making me comfortable;
Thank you for robing me with wisdom, which is more important than robing me with clothes.
Slaves will minister unto you;
Servants will be your helpers.
Children which I shall bear will minister unto you.
26. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Nuptial Chant (Nigeria)
If your parents take care of you up to the time you cut your teeth, you take care of them when
they lose theirs.
27. African Traditional Religions. Akan Proverb (Ghana)
You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear
your God: I am the Lord.
28. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Leviticus 19.32
My father sent for me; I saw he was dying. I buried him in that beautiful valley of winding
waters. I love that land more than all the rest of the world. A man who would not love his father's
grave is worse than a wild animal.
29. Native American Religions. Nez Perce Tradition
Nez Perce Tradition: Veneration of parents' graves and the spirits of ancestors is an important
expression of a son's or daughter's abiding love for their parents. Cf. Winnebago Invocation at the Sweat
Lodge, p. 373; Igbo Invocation at a Trial, p. 372; Khuddaka Patha, p. 374; Nihon Shoki III, p. 371; One
Hundred Poems about the World, pp. 780f.
World Scripture
The horizontal axis of family life is manifested primarily in the mutual love between husband and wife.
The bond of marriage is regarded as divinely ordained in most religious traditions. As such, it carries with
it the promise of God's blessing, and should be full of love and joy.
But love is not merely a matter of unfettered emotion. Subsequent passages spell out some of the
responsibilities of marriage for both the husband and wife. The husband should honor his wife,
never oppress or mistreat her, and always be faithful--and the wife should do likewise. The
scriptures of all religions also distinguish between roles of the husband and wife: the husband
protects and supports his wife, the head of the household yet deferring to his wife in domestic
affairs. The wife is obedient to her husband, serves him with kindness, and takes primary
responsibility for raising the children. While of late these traditional roles have been questioned,
they have served to strengthen the bonds of family through every generation. Finally, we include
several passages on the subject of the good wife.
Not those are true husband and wife that with each other [merely] consort: Truly wedded are
those that in two frames, are as one light.
1. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Var-Suhi-Ki, M.3, p. 788
I am He, you are She;
I am Song, you are Verse,
I am Heaven, you are Earth.
We two shall here together dwell,
becoming parents of children.
2. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 14.2.71
Sweet be the glances we exchange,
our faces showing true concord.
Enshrine me in your heart and let
one spirit dwell within us.
I wrap around you this my robe
which came to me from Manu,
so that you may be wholly mine
and never seek another.
3. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 7.36-37
Representing heaven and earth, I have created husband and wife. This is the beginning of the
4. Tenrikyo. Mikagura-uta
In the beginning there was only the Self, one only. He desired, "May I have a wife in order to
have offspring; may I have wealth in order to perform a work!"--for desire reaches this far. Even
if one wishes, one cannot obtain more than this. As long as one does not attain each of these
[desires], he thinks himself to be incomplete.
He found no joy; so even today, one who is all alone finds no joy. He yearned for a second. He
became as large as a man and a woman locked in close embrace. This self he split into two;
hence arose husband and wife. Therefore, as Yajnavalkya used to observe, "Oneself is like half
of a split pea." That is why this void is filled by woman. He was united with her, and thence were
born human beings.
5. Hinduism. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.17 and 1.4.3
Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit
for him." So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the
air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called
every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the
air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. So
the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs
and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he
made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my
bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one
6. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Genesis 2.18-24
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.17 and 1.4.3: This is an account of the creation of pairs from the
primordial Androgyne. Cf. Prasna Upanishad 1.4-5, p. 176; Maori Tradition, p. 311a. Genesis 2.18-24:
These verses give divine sanction to marriage. Jesus used them to declare that divorce was not
acceptable to God--see Mark 10.2-12, p. 475.
The verse, "And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent" (Genesis 24.67), our masters
have interpreted to mean that the Divine Presence came into Isaac's house along with Rebecca.
According to the secret doctrine, the supernal Mother is together with the male only when the
house is in readiness and at the time the male and female are conjoined. At such time blessings
are showered forth by the supernal Mother upon them.
7. Judaism. Zohar, Genesis 101b
The moral man finds the moral law beginning in the relation between man and woman, but
ending in the vast reaches of the universe.
8. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 12
The point at which Adam and Eve join into one body as husband and wife is also the point at
which God, the subject of love, and man, the object of beauty, become one union, thus
establishing the center of goodness. Here, for the first time, the purpose of creation is
accomplished. God, our Parent, is able to abide with perfected men as His children, and
peacefully rest for eternity. At that time, this center would become the object of God's eternal
love, and through this, God would be stimulated with happiness for eternity. Here God's Word
would be physically incarnated for the first time in human history.... However, the universe lost
this center when man fell.
9. Unification Church. Divine Principle I.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has created all things to his glory.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of humankind.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who created humankind in his image, in
the image of the likeness of his form, and has prepared for him from his very own person an
eternal building. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, Creator of man.
May you be glad and exultant, O barren one, when her children are gathered to her with joy.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who makes Zion joyful through her children.
May Thou make joyful these beloved companions, just as Thou gladdened Thy creatures in the
Garden of Eden in primordial times. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who makes bridegroom and bride
to rejoice.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, King of the universe, who created mirth and joy, bridegroom and
bride, gladness, jubilation, dancing and delight, love and brotherhood, peace and fellowship.
Quickly, O Lord our God, may the sound of mirth and joy be heard in the streets of Judah and
Jerusalem, the voice of bridegroom and bride, jubilant voices of bridegrooms from their canopies
and youths from the feasts of song. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who makes the bridegroom rejoice
with the bride.
10. Judaism. Talmud, Ketubot 8a
Doctrine of the Mean 12: Cf. I Ching 54, p. 123. Divine Principle I. The Blessing, or holy wedding,
is the chief sacrament in the Unification Church. Blessed marriages are for eternity. Cf. Divine Principle
I.2.2.2, p. 429. Ketubot 8a: These six benedictions are recited at the wedding ceremony. The 'building'
refers to the creation of Eve from Adam's rib, as well as the household of the family. The reference to
God as the Creator of humankind denotes that marriage is God's design for the perpetuation of the
human race, which began with the blessing to Adam and Eve in Eden. The last benediction connects the
joy of the newlyweds with the eschatological joy at the fulfillment of God's kingdom in Jerusalem. Bridal
'canopies' are used at all Jewish weddings.
In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man
must enter into this order of the priesthood (meaning the new and everlasting covenant of
marriage); and if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the
new and everlasting covenant, and is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him
who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it
shall be said unto them--Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection... and shall inherit thrones,
kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths--then shall it be written
in the Lamb's Book of Life... and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they
shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all
things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of
the seeds forever and ever.
11. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Doctrine and Covenants 131.1-3, 132.19
Among His signs is that He created spouses for you among yourselves that you may console
yourselves with them. He has planted affection and mercy between you.
12. Islam. Qur'an 30.21
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
For love is strong as death,
jealousy is cruel as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a most vehement flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If a man offered for love
all the wealth of his house,
it would be utterly scorned.
13. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Song of Solomon 8.6-7
Doctrine and Covenants 131.1-3, 132.19: Latter-day Saints of pure faith, who are members of the
priesthood, may enter into Temple Marriage, which establishes an eternal, indissoluble bond.
Kwan-kwan go the ospreys,
On the islet in the river.
The modest, retiring, virtuous, young lady-For our prince a good mate is she.
Here long, there short, is the duckweed,
To the left, to the right, borne about by the current.
The modest, retiring, virtuous, young lady-Waking and sleeping, he sought her.
He sought her and found her not,
And waking and sleeping he thought about her.
Long he thought; oh! long and anxiously;
On his side, on his back, he turned, and back again.
Here long, there short, is the duckweed;
On the left, on the right, we gather it.
The modest, retiring, virtuous, young lady-With lutes, small and large, let us give her friendly welcome.
Here long, there short, is the duckweed;
On the left, on the right, we cook and present it.
The modest, retiring, virtuous, young lady-With bells and drums let us show delight in her.
14. Confucianism. Book of Songs, Ode 1
Book of Songs, Ode 1: This ode begins by describing a lover's anxiety as he awaits his bride, and ends
with the joy of friends and family at their wedding. Many interpret the ode as describing the virtue of a
bride of King Wen, as shown by her modest disposition and retiring manner. The king's anxiety and long
quest to obtain his bride is often remarked. The sound of male and female ospreys answering each other
at a distance alludes to the distance between the lovers; the soft duckweed gathered and presented as
an offering alludes to their union. Confucius cites this ode, see Analects 3.20, p. 921, as a model of
restrained pleasure, of joy not carried to extremes. Cf. Song of Solomon 3:1-5, pp. 763f.
Kaen-kwan went the axle ends of my carriage,
As I thought of the young beauty, and went to fetch her.
It was not that I was hungry or thirsty,
But I longed for one of such virtuous fame to come and be with me.
Although no good friends be with us, we will feast and be glad.
Dense is that forest in the plain,
And there sit the long-tailed pheasants.
In her proper season that well-grown lady,
With her admirable virtue, is come to instruct me.
We will feast, and I will praise her.
"I love you, and will never be weary of you."
Although I have no good spirits,
We will drink, and perhaps be satisfied.
Although I have no good viands,
We will eat, and perhaps be satisfied.
Although I have no virtue to impart to you,
We will sing and dance.
I ascend that lofty ridge,
And split the branches of the oaks for firewood.
I split the branches of the oaks for firewood
Amid the luxuriance of their leaves.
I see you whose match is seldom to be seen,
And my whole heart is satisfied.
The high hill is seen above;
The great road is easy to travel,
My four steeds advanced without stopping;
The six reins [make music] in my hands like lute-strings.
I see you, my bride,
To the comfort of my heart.
15. Confucianism. Book of Songs, Ode 218
The union of hearts and minds
and freedom from hate I'll bring you.
Love one another as the cow
loves the calf that she has borne.
Let son be loyal to father,
and of one mind with his mother;
let wife speak to husband words
that are honey-sweet and gentle.
Let not a brother hate a brother,
nor a sister hate a sister,
unanimous, united in aims,
speak you words with friendliness.
I will make the prayer for that
concord among men at home
by which the gods do not separate,
nor ever hate one another.
Be not parted--growing old, taking thought,
thriving together, moving under a common yoke,
come speaking sweetly to one another;
I'll make you have one aim and be of one mind.
Common be your water-store, common your share of food;
I bind you together to a common yoke.
United, gather round the sacrificial fire
like spokes around the nave of a wheel.
With your common desire I'll make you all
have one aim, be of one mind, following one leader,
like the gods who preserve their immortality.
Morn and eve may there be the loving heart in you.
16. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 3.30
Atharva Veda 3.30: This hymn sets forth the ideal of the Hindu family. Cf. Rig Veda 10.191.2-4, p. 272.
Behold the comely forms of Surya!
her border-cloth and her headwear,
and her garment triply parted,
these the priest has sanctified.
I take your hand for good fortune, that you
may attain old age with me, your husband. The solar deities-Bhaga, Aryaman, Savitri, Purandhi-have given you to me to be mistress of my household.
Pushan, arouse her, the most blissful one;
through whom a new generation will spring to life.
She, in the ardor of her love, will meet me,
and I, ardently loving, will meet her....
Live you two here, be not parted,
enjoy the full length of life,
sporting with your sons and grandsons,
rejoicing in your own abode.
May Prajapati bring forth children of us, may
Aryaman unite us together till old age,
Not inauspicious, enter your husband's house,
be gracious to our people and animals.
Come, not with fierce looks, not harming your husband,
good to animals, kind-hearted and glorious,
a mother of heroes, loving the gods,
pleasant, gracious to humans and to animals.
Make her, thou bounteous Indra,
a good mother of sons; grant her
good fortune; give her ten sons
and make her husband the eleventh.
Be a queen to your father-in-law,
a queen to your mother-in-law,
a queen to your husband's sisters,
and a queen to your husband's brothers.
May the universal Devas
and Apas join our hearts together;
so may Matarisvan, Dhatri,
and Dveshtri unite us both.
17. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.85.35-47
Rig Veda 10.85.35-47: Vv. 35-37, 42-47. This is the traditional Hindu marriage vow and blessings. The
bride is Surya, daughter of the solar deity Savitri; she is the prototype of all brides. 'Her husband the
eleventh' means the wife will mother her husband in his old age; 'queen' describes the wife's status as
head of the household.
A man is forbidden to compel his wife to her marital duty.
18. Judaism. Talmud, Erubin 100b
"Your wife has rights over you," said the Prophet, according to Abu Juhaifa.
19. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari
Your wives are as a tilth to you: so approach your tilth when or how you will; but do some good
act for your souls beforehand, and fear God.
20. Islam. Qur'an 2.223
He who loves his wife as himself; who honors her more than himself; who rears his children in
the right path, and who marries them off at the proper time of their life, concerning him it is
written: "And you will know that your home is at peace."
21. Judaism. Talmud, Yebamot 62
Do not abuse your wife. Women are sacred. If you make your wife suffer, you will die in a short
time. Our grandmother, Earth, is a woman, and in abusing your wife you are abusing her. By
thus abusing our grandmother, who takes care of us, by your action you will be practically killing
22. Native American Religions. A Winnebago Father's Precepts
When women are honored, there the gods are pleased; but where they are not honored, no sacred
rite yields rewards. When the female relations live in grief, the family soon wholly perishes; but
that family where they are not unhappy ever prospers.
23. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 3.56-57
From woman is man born, inside her he is conceived;
To woman man is engaged, and woman he marries.
With woman is man's companionship.
>From woman originate new generations.
Should woman die, is another sought;
By woman's help is man kept in restraint.
Why revile her of whom are born great ones of the earth?
24. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Asa-ki-Var, M.1, p. 473
It is well for a man not to touch a woman. But because of the temptation to immorality, each man
should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his
wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over
her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his body, but the
wife does. Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may
devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of
self-control. I say this by way of concession, not of command....
To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. But if
they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame
with passion.
25. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 7.1-9
Each one of you has ties to others, so marry them with their family's consent and give them their
marriage portions decently as matrons rather than taking them on as mistresses, nor having [any
secret affairs with] them as girlfriends.... That goes for any of you who worries lest he may not
control his impulses; however it is better for you to discipline yourselves.
26 Islam. Qur'an 4.25
A virtuous wife who, after the death of her husband, constantly remains chaste even though she
have no son, will reach heaven just as do men living a life of renunciation....
27. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 5.160
It floats about, that boat of cypress wood,
There in the middle of the Ho.
With his two tufts of hair falling over his forehead,
He was my mate;
And I swear that till death I will have no other.
O mother, O Heaven,
Why will you not understand me?
It floats about, that boat of cypress wood,
There by the side of the Ho.
With his two tufts of hair falling over his forehead,
He was my only one;
And I swear that till death I will not do the evil thing.
O mother, O Heaven,
Why will you not understand me?
28. Confucianism. Book of Songs, Ode 45
The possession of many wives undermines a man's moral nature.
29. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3
Laws of Manu 5.160: According to Hindu tradition, a virtuous widow will remain chaste and not remarry.
However noble this ethic may be, it leaves widows destitute if their relatives or society do not take on
the responsibility of supporting them. Cf. Mencius I.B.5, p. 1068. Book of Songs, Ode 45: This poem was
sung by Kung Chiang, the widow of the prince Kung-po of Wei. Her mother wanted to force her into a
second marriage, and she protests. The Chinese have always considered the refusal of a widow to marry
again to be a great virtue. Cf. I Ching 54, p. 123.
You will not be able to deal equally between your wives, however much you wish to do so.
30. Islam. Qur'an 4.129
Whoever has many wives will have troubles in surfeit.
He will be deceitful, he will lie, he will betray [some of them] to have them together;
It is not certain that he can have peace to pray well.
31. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Poem (Nigeria)
Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has given the one more strength
than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women
are devoutly obedient, and guard in the husband's absence what God would have them guard.
32. Islam. Qur'an 4.34
All of you are guardians and are responsible for your wards. The ruler is a guardian; the man is a
guardian of his family; the lady is a guardian and is responsible for her husband's house and his
offspring; and so all of you are guardians and are responsible for your wards.
33. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari
In the family women's appropriate place is within; men's, without. When men and women keep
their proper places they act in accord with Heaven's great norm. Among the members of the
family are the dignified master and mistress whom we term father and mother. When father,
mother, sons, elder and younger brothers all act in a manner suited to their various positions
within the family, when husbands play their proper role and wives are truly wifely, the way of
that family runs straight. It is by the proper regulation of each family that the whole world is
34. Confucianism. I Ching 37: The Family
My dear sisters the women, you have had a hard life to live in this world, yet without you this
world would not be what it is. Wakan Tanka intends that you should bear much sorrow--comfort
others in time of sorrow. By your hands the family moves.
35. Native American Religions. Sioux Tradition of the Sacred Pipe
Qur'an 4.129: The Qur'an sanctions a man to support as many as four wives, but this was expressly a
concession in time of war, when many widows and orphans needed to be supported (Qur'an 4.3). But it
declares that monogamy is the only equitable arrangement. I Ching 37: Cf. the Five Relations as set forth
in Doctrine of the Mean 20.8, p. 241.
The whole future of the race depends upon its attitude toward children; and a race which
specializes in women for "menial purposes" or which believes that the contest of the sexes in the
spheres of business and politics is a worthier endeavor than the creation of tomorrow's
generation, is a race which is dying.
36. Scientology. L. Ron Hubbard, Science of Survival
Woman, before decking yourself, make yourself acceptable to your Lord, Lest He should visit
not your couch, and your make-up be gone to waste. In the woman finding acceptance with her
Lord, lies beauty of her make-up. Should her make-up be acceptable, shall she have love of her
Lord. Let her deck herself in fear of the Lord, joy in God her perfume, Love her sustenance.
Dedicating body and mind to her Lord, let her in love to Him be united.
37. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Var-Suhi-Ki, M.3, p. 788
You wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the Word,
may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, when they see your reverent and
chaste behavior. Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold,
and wearing of fine clothing, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable
jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. So once the holy women
who hoped in God used to adorn themselves and were submissive to their husbands, as Sarah
obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are now her children if you do right and let nothing
terrify you.
38. Christianity. Bible, 1 Peter 3.1-6
Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to
the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body,
and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in
everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave
himself up for her, the he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with
the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any
such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their
wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own
flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his
body. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the
two shall become one flesh." This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to
Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see
that she respects her husband.
39. Christianity. Bible, Ephesians 5.21-33
1 Peter 3.6: The matriarch Sarah, wife of Abraham, is the model for later generations of women; cf.
Isaiah 55.1-2, p. 793; Hebrews 11.11, p. 754. Ephesians 5.21-33: On this metaphor of the Church as the
Bride of Christ, cf. Revelation 21.1-7, pp. 1118f.; also Isaiah 62.4-5, p. 206; Exodus Rabbah, p. 286.
The husband who wedded her with sacred texts always gives happiness to his wife, both in
season or out of season.
Though he may be destitute of virtue, or seek his pleasure elsewhere, or devoid of good qualities,
yet a husband must be constantly revered as a god by a faithful wife.
Women need perform no sacrifice, no vow, no fast; if she obeys her husband, she will for that
reason alone be exalted in heaven.
A faithful wife, who desires to dwell after death with her husband, must never do anything that
might displease him who took her hand, whether he be alive or dead....
She who, controlling her thoughts, words, and deeds, never slights her lord, resides after death
with her husband in heaven, and is called a virtuous wife.
40. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 5.153-65
Sujata, the young wife of an eldest son of a rich merchant, Anathapindika, was arrogant, did not
respect others and did not listen to the instruction of her husband and his parents. Consequently,
some discord arose in the family. One day the Blessed One came to visit Anathapindika and
noticed this state of affairs. He called the young wife, Sujata, to Him and spoke to her kindly,
saying, "Sujata, there are seven types of wives:
A wife who is pitiless, corrupt in mind,
Neglecting husband and unamiable,
Inflamed by other men, a prostitute bent on murder,
Call that wife a slayer!
A wife who would rob her husband of his gains-Though little be the profit that he makes,
Whether by craftsmanship, or from his trade, or by the plough-Call that wife a robber!
The slothful glutton, bent on doing nothing,
A gossip and a shrew with strident voice,
Who brings to low account her husband's zeal and industry-Call that wife a master!
Who with loving sympathy,
Just as a mother for her only son,
For husband cares, and over his stored-up wealth keeps watch and ward-Call that wife a mother!
Who holds her husband in the same regard
As younger sister holds the elder born,
The meek in heart, who in his every wish her husband serves-Call that wife a sister!
And she who is as glad her lord to see
As boon companions long apart to meet,
A gracious character of gentle birth, a fond helpmate-Call that wife a friend!
If fearless of the lash and stick, unmoved,
All things enduring, calm, and pure in heart,
She bear obedience to her husband's word, from anger free-Call that wife a handmaid!
Now she who's called: a mistress, slayer, thief,
Who's harsh, immoral, lacking in respect, when death comes-Will wander in the miseries of hell.
But mother, sister or companion, slave,
In precept long established and restrained, when death comes-Will wander in the happy heaven world.
These, Sujata, are the seven kinds of wives a man may have; and which of them are you?"
"Lord," said Sujata, "let the Exalted One think of me as a handmaid from this day forth."
41. Buddhism. Anguttara Nikaya iv.91, Sujata Sutta
She gathers the white southernwood,
By the ponds, on the islets.
She employs it,
In the business of our prince.
She gathers the white southernwood,
Along the streams in the valleys.
She employs it,
In the temple of our prince.
With headdress reverently rising aloft,
Early, while yet it is night, she is in the prince's temple.
In her headdress, slowly retiring,
She returns [to her own apartments].
42. Confucianism. Book of Songs, Ode 13
Book of Songs, Ode 13: This song praising the dutiful wife may be describing how she gathers wood for
nurturing silkworms. But the word 'temple,' although it could mean any large public building, rather
suggests that she is engaged in religious duties at a royal shrine. Chinese moralists have long referred to
this piece to show how even the most trivial things are accepted in sacrifice, when presented with
reverence and sincerity.
A good wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant,
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and tasks for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She girds her loins with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle...
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her,
"Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
43. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Proverbs 31.10-31
World Scripture
Beyond the circle of the family, a person seeks friends who will be honest, faithful, and true. The
scriptures uphold the ideal of the true friend, while admonishing people to choose their friends
carefully, lest they be misled or find themselves abandoned in adversity.
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
1. Christianity. Bible, John 15.13
And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another; they enjoin the right
and forbid the wrong, and they establish worship and pay the poor-due, and they obey God and
His messenger.
2. Islam. Qur'an 9.71
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
very pleasant have you been to me;
your love to me was wonderful,
passing the love of women.
3. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, 2 Samuel 1.26
Only two virtues are enough;
Why should the good stand in need of many?
Anger lived like a lightning flash
And friendship enduring like a line inscribed on a rock.
4. Jainism. Vajjalagam 42
John 15.13: Cf. Galatians 6:2, p. 974, and related passages. Qur'an 9.71: Cf. Qur'an 49.10, p. 270, and
Hadith of Bukhari, p. 974. 2 Samuel 1.26: The story of David and Jonathan is a tale of an exemplary
friendship. Jonathan, the son of King Saul (and heir apparent), risked his life to help David flee his
father's wrath. David sings this verse in an eulogy for his friend, on hearing of his death in battle.
Men bound in fellowship first weep and lament, But afterward they laugh. (Hexagram 13:
Fellowship with Men)
The Master said,
"Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings.
Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again.
Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words,
There the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence.
But when two people are at one in their inmost hearts,
They shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.
And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts,
Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids."
5. Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.8.6
There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
6. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Proverbs 18.24
He who entreats aid for his comrade, though he himself is in need, is answered first.
7. Judaism. Talmud, Baba Kamma 92a
The dog says, "If you fall down, and I fall down, the play will be enjoyable."
8. African Traditional Religions. Nupe Proverb (Nigeria)
Offend me and I will question you--this is the medicine for friendship.
9. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)
Only few people act in our interest in our absence,
When we are not around.
But in our presence, every Dick and Harry, slaves and freeborn,
Display their love for us.
10. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Verse (Nigeria)
Confucius said, "There are three sorts of friend that are profitable, and three sorts that are
harmful. Friendship with the upright, with the true-to-death, and with those who have heard
much is profitable. Friendship with the obsequious, friendship with those who are good at
accommodating their principles, friendship with those who are clever at talk is harmful."
11. Confucianism. Analects 16.4
I Ching, Great Commentary 1.8.6: Cf. Book of Songs, Ode 64, p. 986. Nupe Proverb: Good friends should
share each other's feelings. Yoruba Verse: Cf. Yoruba Song, pp. 953f.; Analects 1.3, p. 1019.
It is by dealing with a man that his virtue is to be known, and that too after a long time; not by
one who gives it a passing thought or no thought at all; by a wise man, not by a fool. It is by
association that a man's integrity is to be known... It is in times of trouble that his fortitude is to
be known... It is by conversing with him, that a man's wisdom is to be known, and that too after a
long time; not by one who gives it a passing thought or no thought at all; by a wise man, not by a
12. Buddhism. Udana 65-66
When you gain a friend, gain him through testing,
and do not trust him hastily.
For there is a friend who is such at his own convenience,
but will not stand by you in your day of trouble.
And there is a friend who changes into an enemy,
and will disclose a quarrel to your disgrace.
And there is a friend who is a table companion,
but will not stand by you in your day of trouble.
In your prosperity he will make himself your equal,
and be bold with your servants;
but if you are brought low he will turn against you,
and will hide himself from your presence.
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter:
he that has found one has found a treasure.
There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend,
and no scales can measure his excellence.
A faithful friend is an elixir of life;
and those who fear the Lord will find him.
Whoever fears the Lord directs his friendship aright,
for as he is, so is his neighbor also.
13. Christianity. Bible, Sirach 6.7-17
The friend who always seeks his benefit,
The friend whose words are other than his deeds,
The friend who flatters just to make you pleased,
The friend who keeps you company in wrong,
These four the wise regard as enemies:
Shun them from afar as paths of danger.
The friend who is a helper all the time,
The friend in happiness and sorrow both,
The friend who gives advice that's always good,
The friend who has full sympathy with you,
These four the wise see as good-hearted friends
And with devotion cherish such as these
As does a mother cherish her own child.
14. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya iii.187, Sigalovada Sutta
Udana 65-66: Cf. Majjhima Nikaya iii.21, p. 469. Sirach 6.7-17: Cf. Micah 7:5-7, p. 953; Analects 13.25, p.
What is attached to the defiled will be defiled; and what is attached to the pure will be pure.
15. Judaism. Mishnah, Kelim 12.2
Those that are good, seek for friends; that will help you to practice virtue with body and soul.
Those that are wicked, keep at a distance; it will prevent evil from approaching you.
16. Taoism. Tract of the Quiet Way
Friend! listen to the benefits of holy company:
Thereby is cast off impurity, vanished are millions of sins,
And purified is the mind.
17. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Bilaval, M.5, p. 809
Sit in the assembly of the honest; join with those that are good and virtuous; nay, seek out a
noble enemy where enmity cannot be helped and have nothing to do with the wicked and the
unrighteous. Even in bondage you should live with the virtuous, the erudite, and the truthful; but
not for a kingdom should you stay with the wicked and the malicious.
18. Hinduism. Garuda Purana 112
Bilaval, M.5: Cf. Kanara, M.5, p. 285. Garuda Purana 112: Cf. 1 Corinthians 5.9-13, p. 963.
As the man one makes his friend,
As the one he follows,
Such does he himself become;
he is like unto his mate.
Follower and following,
Toucher and touched alike,
As a shaft with poison is smeared
Poisons all the bunch unsmeared,
Both are fouled. A man inspired
In the fear of being soiled
Should not company with rogues.
If a man string putrid flesh
On a blade of kusa grass,
That same grass will smell putrid.
So with him who follows fools.
If a man wrap frankincense
In a leaf, that leaf smells sweet.
So with those who follow sages.
Mindful of that leaf-basket,
Knowing what will him befall,
The prudent man should company
With the good, not with the bad.
Bad men lead to purgatory;
The good bring to the happy bourn.
19. Buddhism. Itivuttaka 68-69
World Scripture
Individuals and families function within the context of a community, which in turn functions within a
larger society, nation, and world. The individual's and family's well-being is bound up with the
community's well-being, and likewise its well-being is inseparable from the peace and prosperity of the
society, the nation, and ultimately, the world. Religious precepts undergird community by teaching the
virtues of cooperation, friendship, justice, and public-mindedness. These create the spirit of unity by
which community can thrive and prosper.
This section deals specifically with the theme of unity. The opening texts indicate that unity is
first of all a gift of grace--a manifestation of the oneness of Ultimate Reality--reconciling those
who would otherwise be enemies. The passages that follow call for unity among all members of
the community--even to the unity of all humanity--and condemn divisions. The section
concludes with passages which use the metaphors of a building and of the human body to depict
the varieties of tasks and social roles which should mutually support each other to build a united
Israel's reconciliation with God can be achieved only when they are all one brotherhood.
1. Judaism. Talmud, Menahot 27a
The believers indeed are brothers; so set things right between your two brothers, and fear God;
haply so you will find mercy.
2. Islam. Qur'an 49.10
3. Happy is the unity of the Sangha.
Happy is the discipline of the united ones.
3. Buddhism. Dhammapada 194
4. I do not pray for these [my disciples] only, but also for those who believe in me through their
word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may
be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
4. Christianity. Bible, John 17.20-21
Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them
by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst
of them.
5. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 18.19-20
If two sit together and the words between them are of Torah, then the Shechinah is in their midst.
6. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 3.2
And when a company meets together in one of the houses of God to pore over the Book of God
and to study it together among themselves, the Shechinah comes down to them and mercy
overshadows them, the angels surround them, and God remembers them among them that are
7. Islam. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 36
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
running down upon the beard,
upon the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life for evermore.
8. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 133
Hold fast, all together, to God's rope, and be not divided among yourselves. Remember with
gratitude God's favor on you, for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by
His grace you became brethren. You were on the brink of the fiery Pit, and He saved you from it.
Thus does God make His signs clear to you, that you may be guided.
Let there arise out of you one community, inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and
forbidding what is wrong: those will be prosperous. Be not be like those who are divided
amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving clear signs: for them is a dreadful
9. Islam. Qur'an 3.103-5
John 17.20-21: This is Jesus' prayer for the church to be united, as a testimony to the world of God's
presence in him. Cf. 1 John 4.12-13, p. 237; Pesikta Rab Kahana, p. 286. Matthew 18.19-20: Compare
Qur'an 58.7, p. 110, where the same image is used to describe God's omniscience, a third party to every
secret consultation. Psalm 133: Cf. Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7.18, p. 287.
It is because one antelope will blow the dust from the other's eye that two antelopes walk
10. African Traditional Religions. Akan Proverb (Ghana)
Meet together, speak together,
let your minds be of one accord,
as the Gods of old, being of one mind,
accepted their share of the sacrifice.
May your counsel be common, your assembly common,
common the mind, and the thoughts of these united.
A common purpose do I lay before you,
and worship with your common oblation.
Let your aims be common,
and your hearts of one accord,
and all of you be of one mind,
so you may live well together.
11. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.191.2-4
Abruptly he [King Hsiang] asked me, "Through what can the Empire be settled?"
"Through unity," I said.
"Who can unite it?"
"One who is not fond of killing can unite it," I said.
13. Confucianism. Mencius I.A.6
Let us have concord with our own people,
and concord with people who are strangers to us;
The Divine Twins create between us and the strangers
a unity of hearts.
May we unite in our minds, unite in our purposes,
and not fight against the divine spirit within us.
Let not the battle-cry arise amidst many slain,
nor the arrows of the War-god fall with the break of day.
14. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 7.52.1-2
Qur'an 3.103-05: God is one unity, and humankind should similarly be united; this reconciliation comes
through submission to God. The unity of God, the unity of spirit and body within the individual, the unity
of society, and the ideal unity of all reality (cf. Qur'an 2.115, p. 109), are encompassed in the Islamic
concept of tawhid. Akan Proverb: Doing good to each other is the basis of societal unity. Rig Veda
10.191.2-4: Cf. Atharva Veda 3.30, pp. 255f.
My children, war, fear, and disunity have brought you from your villages to this sacred council
fire. Facing a common danger, and fearing for the lives of your families, you have yet drifted
apart, each tribe thinking and acting only for itself. Remember how I took you from one small
band and nursed you into many nations. You must reunite now and act as one. No tribe alone can
withstand our savage enemies, who care nothing about the eternal law, who sweep upon us like
the storms of winter, spreading death and destruction everywhere.
My children, listen well. Remember that you are brothers, that the downfall of one means the
downfall of all. You must have one fire, one pipe, one war club.
15. Native American Religions. Hiawatha (Iroquois)
Separate not yourself from the community.
16. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 2.4
Maintain religion, and do not stir up any divisions within it.
17. Islam. Qur'an 42.13
Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will
18. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 12.25
One thing, when it comes to pass, does so to the loss, to the unhappiness of many folk... to the
misery of the gods and humankind. What is that one thing? Schism in the order of monks. When
the order is broken there are mutual quarrels, mutual abuse, mutual exclusiveness, and mutual
betrayals. Thereupon those who are at variance are not reconciled, and between some of those
who were at one there arises some difference.
19. Buddhism. Itivuttaka 11
Atharva Veda 7.52.1-2: The Asvins, or divine Twins, symbolize perfect unity of two. Cf. Rig Veda 2.39.
Hiawatha: Hiawatha (Tekanawita, c. 1450), the legendary chief of the Onondaga tribe, unified the Five
Nations of the Iroquois. The Iroquois League became the most prosperous and powerful of the Native
American nations in what is now the eastern United States. Qur'an 42.13: Cf. Qur'an 30.31-32, p. 448.
Matthew 12.25: Hence for the sake of unity, members who are immoral and rebellious may be expelled;
see 1 Corinthians 5.9-13, p. 963. Itivuttaka 11: See Udana 55, p. 964, and Vinaya Pitaka 2.184-98, pp.
448f., the story of the schismatic Devadatta. To make a schism in the sangha is regarded as one of the
Five Deadly Sins--see p. 185n.
Let all mankind be thy sect.
20. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 28, M.1, p. 6
Consider the family of humankind one.
21. Jainism. Jinasena, Adipurana
My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
22. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 56.7
All ye under the heaven! Regard heaven as your father, earth as your mother, and all things as
your brothers and sisters.
23. Shinto. Oracle of the Kami of Atsuta
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
24. Christianity. Bible, Galatians 3.28
O contending peoples and kindreds of the earth! Set your faces towards unity, and let the
radiance of its light shine upon you. Gather ye together, and for the sake of God resolve to root
out whatever is the source of contention among you. Then will the effulgence of the world's great
Luminary envelop the whole earth, and its inhabitants become the citizens of one city, and the
occupants of one and the same throne.
25. Baha'i Faith. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 111
To accomplish the gigantic historical task [of unification], you must discover the extraordinary
power of love, love that does not become the circumstantial victim of society. Supreme love
transcends every national, racial, and cultural barrier. People have always talked about love, but
human love alone will never accomplish the task of universal unification. Therefore, we rally
around one love--the love and heart of God.... The East and West are meeting here today, not
merely because we want to see each other for personal reasons, but because the heart of God is
linking us into one.
26. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 9-11-77
The pebbles are the strength of the wall.
27. African Traditional Religions. Buji Proverb (Nigeria)
Abu Musa reported the Prophet as saying, "Believers are to one another like a building whose
parts support one another." He then interlaced his fingers.
28. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim
Oracle of the Kami of Atsuta: This notion that people are tied together with the kami and things of
nature in one universal family builds a sense of community and respect for nature. Atsuta is a shrine in
Nayoya. Galatians 3.28: Cf. Ephesians 2.14, p. 555. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 111: Cf.
Gleanings 115, p. 515. Sun Myung Moon, 9-11-77: Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73, p. 145; Wadhans,
M.1, p. 239; Ephesians 2:14, p. 555.
Beware lest the desires of the flesh and of a corrupt inclination provoke divisions among you. Be
ye as the fingers of one hand, the members of one body. Thus counsels you the Pen of
Revelation, if ye be of them that believe.
29. Baha'i Faith. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 72
When one finger is sore you do not cut it off.
30. African Traditional Religions. Njak Proverb (Nigeria)
When they divided the Supreme Being,
how many portions did they make?
What did they call his mouth? What his arms?
and what his thighs and his feet?
The Brahmin was his mouth, and
his arms were made the Kshatriya,
his thighs became the Vaisya, and
from his feet was the Sudra born.
31. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.90.11-12
Njak Proverb: Dependent, unsuccessful relatives and friends are still part of the community to be
protected. Cf. Mencius IV.B.7, p. 979; Romans 15.1-3, p. 979. Rig Veda 10.90.11-12: This famous passage
is the chief Vedic foundation for the caste system. It sanctions the distinctions between castes as having
originated with the creation itself. Hence a person's caste, being defined by birth, is immutable. Some
contemporary Hindu thinkers would prefer to interpret this passage to establish only a functional
differentiation of social roles (as in 1 Corinthians 12, below). In that case, the various roles could be filled
by people regardless of their birth or parentage. More of this hymn is found on pp. 868f.
Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many,
are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or
Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am
not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And
if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not
make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing?
If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the
organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single organ, where would the
body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. They eye cannot say to the hand, "I have
no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the
parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which
we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated
with greater modesty, which are more presentable parts do not require. But God has so adjusted
the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body,
but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer
together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and
individually members of it.
32. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 12.12-27
1 Corinthians 12.12-27: Cf. Ephesians 2.19-22, p. 286.
World Scripture
The equality of all persons, male and female, rich and poor, of any race, class, or caste, is proclaimed in
the scriptures of all faiths. This is true despite the conventions of many cultures that discriminate
between people on the basis of caste, or class, or race, or sex. Regrettably, such discrimination is also on
occasion supported by certain conventional interpretations of passages from sacred texts. Yet with the
development of a more refined religious consciousness, all forms of discrimination are being overcome,
and interpretations of religious texts which have traditionally undergirded discriminatory attitudes and
practices are being shown to be erroneous.
The essential equality of all people is supported by the doctrines of the monotheistic faiths, that
God is the parent of all humanity and that all human beings are descended from one pair of
original ancestors, Adam and Eve. In Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, and Confucianism, this
equality is grounded in the fact that Enlightenment, unity with the Absolute, or the realization of
Goodness is available to all universally. Distinctions among people, therefore, should be based
only on their conduct, morality, and level of (spiritual) education, and attainment.
The passages below are grouped under the following themes: (1) equality is grounded in the One
Absolute; (2) a person's value is determined by his education and attainments, not by birth; and
(3) there are no distinctions of class or caste, (4) nationality, (5) race, or (6) sex. Further relevant
passages on the equality of people of different creeds may be found in the Prologue, pp. 57-69.
Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us?
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Malachi 2.10
I look upon all creatures equally; none are less dear to me and none more dear.
2. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 9.29
There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also
the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the
Greek. For God shows no partiality.
3. Christianity. Bible, Romans 2.9-11
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
4. Christianity. Bible, Galatians 3.28
I call heaven and earth to witness: whether Jew or Gentile, whether man or woman, whether
servant or freeman, they are all equal in this: that the Holy Spirit rests upon them in accordance
with their deeds!
5. Judaism. Midrash, Seder Eliyyahu Rabbah 10
The Law is that which leads to welfare and salvation. It forms conduct and character
distinguished by the sense of equality among all beings.
6. Jainism. Somadeva, Nitivakyamrita 1.1
But a single man [Adam] was created for the sake of peace among mankind, that none should say
to his fellow, "My father was greater than your father."
7. Judaism. Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4.5
O mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female and made you into nations
and tribes, that you might know each other [not that you might despise each other]. Verily the
most honored among you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous.
8. Islam. Qur'an 49.13
Bhagavad Gita 9.29: Cf. Tao Te Ching 79, p. 139; Qur'an 76.3, p. 140. Galatians 3.28: See comparable
passages on unity, p. 274. Romans 2.9-11: Cf. Acts 10.34-35, p. 63. Qur'an 49.13: Cf. Hadith of Baihaqi, p.
All the people of the whole world are equally brothers and sisters. There is no one who is an utter
stranger. There is no one who has known the truth of this origin. It is the very cause of the regret
of Tsukihi (God). The souls of all people are equal, whether they live on the high mountains or at
the bottoms of the valleys.
9. Tenrikyo. Ofudesaki XIII.43-45
Confucius said, "By nature men are pretty much alike; it is learning and practice that set them
10. Confucianism. Analects 17.2
Whose deeds lower him, his pedigree cannot elevate.
11. Islam (Shiite). Nahjul Balagha, Saying 21
By deeds, not by birth, is one a brahmin. By deeds one is a ksatriya, by deeds is one a vaishya,
and by deeds is one a shudra.
12. Jainism. Uttaradhyayana Sutra 25.3
Four are the castes--brahmin, khatri, sudra, and vaishya;
Four the stages of life-Out of these, whoever on the Lord meditates, is superior.
13. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gaund, M.4, p. 861
Not by matted hair, nor by family, nor by birth does one become a brahmin. But in whom there
exist both truth and righteousness, pure is he, a brahmin is he.
I do not call him a brahmin merely because he is born of a brahmin womb or sprung from a
brahmin mother. Being with impediments, he should address others as "sir." But he who is free
from impediments, free from clinging--him I call a brahmin.
14. Buddhism. Dhammapada 393, 396
Confucius said, "In education there are no class distinctions."
15. Confucianism. Analects 15.38
Ofudesaki XIII.43-45: All mankind--the wealthy (on high mountains) and the poor (in the valleys)-emanated from one point, 'this origin:' their common ancestor was formed by God the Parent at the
shrine at Tenri, navel of the world--compare the Shinto cosmogony in the Kojiki 4-6, 178. There they will
finally return to their common root. On God's regret, see Ofudesaki XVII.65-70, p. 460. Dhammapada
393, 396: The Buddha gave new, spiritual definitions to Hindu racial and caste terms like Aryian and
Brahmin. An Aryian is not a member of a light-skinned race, but one who follows the Aryian Eightfold
Path. A Brahmin is not a member of a privileged caste, but one who attains the stage of arahant. Cf.
Dhammapada 402-422, pp. 231f.
So what of all these titles, names, and races? They are mere worldly conventions.
16. Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 648
Lord God of glory is He to whom both the Ariyans and the outcastes (Dasa) belong.
17. Hinduism. Rig Veda 8.51.9
If the brahmin, kshatriya, etc. initiated into my holy order of equality still subscribe to castes and
exult therein, they behave like unregenerate beings.
18. Jainism. Sutrakritanga 1.13.10-11
Know all human beings to be repositories of Divine Light;
Stop not to inquire about their caste;
In the hereafter there are no castes.
19. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Asa, M.1, p. 349
Caste and dynastic pride are condemnable notions;
The One Master shelters all existence.
Anyone arrogating superiority to himself shall be disillusioned;
Says Nanak, Superiority shall be determined by God,
crediting such a one with honor.
20 Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sri-ki-Var Mahalla, M.1, p. 83
Unless the mother has a flow of blood
There is no place for the embryo to lodge;
The function of the seed is the same for everyone.
Greed, lust, anger, joy: such passions are common to all.
What is the use of your learning and erudition?
Where is the proof for your claim to be high born?
You are a blacksmith if you heat,
You are a washerman if you beat,
A weaver if you lay the warp,
A brahmin if you read the scriptures.
Is anyone in this world born through the ear?
Therefore, whoever realizes the divine nature is high born.
21. Hinduism. Basavanna, Vacana 589
Asa, M.1 and Sri-ki-Var Mahalla, M.1: At the Sikh communal meal or pangat, all eat together while sitting
in a single line, without distinction of caste, rank, or wealth. Kings and beggars, brahmins and
garbagemen sit together as equals, thus destroying caste consciousness; see Kanara, M.5, p. 285. For
among caste-conscious Hindus, it is taboo for a Brahmin to eat at the same table with an untouchable.
Vacana 589: See Vacana 716, p. 804. The discussion of conception and birth is to mock the Vedic
tradition in Rig Veda 10.90.11-12, p. 275, that brahmins were set apart at the Creation by being born
through the mouth of the cosmic person. Cf. Itivuttaka 101, p. 575.
To an earthly king, if a poor man greets him, or one who has a burn on his hand, it is a disgrace,
and the king does not reply, but God is not so, everybody is acceptable to Him.
22. Judaism. Midrash on Psalm 147.1
All those who take refuge in me, whatever their birth, race, sex, or caste, will attain the supreme
goal; this realization can be attained even by those whom society scorns. Kings and sages, too
seek this goal with devotion.
23. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 9.32-33
The Merciful demands that your servant be your equal. You should not eat white bread, and he
black bread; you should not drink old wine, and he new wine; you should not sleep on a featherbed and he on straw. Hence it was said, "Whoever acquires a Hebrew slave acquires a master."
24. Judaism. Talmud, Kiddushin, 20a
I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus... no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved
brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. So if you
consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me.
25. Christianity. Bible, Philemon 10-17
"Are you not like the Ethiopians to me,
O people of Israel?" says the Lord.
"Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt,
and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?"
26. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Amos 9.7
When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who
sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself;
for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
27. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Leviticus 19.33-34
Philemon 10-17: Paul, while in prison, had converted Onesimus, a runaway slave, to Christianity. Paul
finally sends him back to his master, Philemon, with a letter appealing that he treat Onesimus not as a
runaway slave but as a brother in Christ. According to Roman law the master had absolute authority
over his slaves, but Paul is appealing to a higher law. Although Paul writes quite tactfully in this letter,
eventually the principle set up in this passage would operate to abolish slavery altogether. Cf. 1
Corinthians 7.20-24, p. 710. Amos 9.7: The prophet Amos warns Israel not to be overly proud of its
position as God's chosen people. God has been working to save even Israel's worst enemies, the
Philistines and the Syrians; cf. Matthew 5.45, p. 140; Megilla 10b, p. 514.
Even a Gentile, if he practices the Torah, is equal to the High Priest.
28. Judaism. Midrash, Sifra 86b
"You are a native of Kwangtung, a barbarian. How can you expect to be a Buddha?" asked the
Hui Neng replied, "Although there are northern men and southern men, north and south make no
difference to their Buddha-nature. A barbarian is different from Your Holiness physically, but
there is no difference in our Buddha-nature."
29. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 1
Have you not seen how that God sends down water from the sky, and therewith We bring forth
with it fruits of diverse hues? And in the mountains are streaks white and red, of diverse hues,
and pitch black.
Men too, and beasts and cattle are of diverse colors. Even so only those of His servants who have
understanding fear God.
30. Islam. Qur'an 35.27-28
For the white to lord it over the black, the Arab over the non-Arab, the rich over the poor, the
strong over the weak or men over women is out of place and wrong.
31. Islam. Hadith of Ibn Majah
What is the true color of love? White? Black? True love has no color. Anyone who is colorconscious cannot have true love at all. You have got to be color-blind.
32. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 1-1-87
God created the human being in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and
female he created them.
33. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Genesis 1.27
Thou art woman, Thou art man; Thou art youth and maiden... it is Thou alone who, when born,
assumes diverse forms.
34. Hinduism. Svetasvatara Upanishad 4.3
And their Lord answers them, "I waste not the labor of any that labors among you, be you male
or female--the one of you is as the other."
35. Islam. Qur'an 3.195
Shariputra, "Goddess, what prevents you from transforming yourself out of your female state, by
nature filthy and an unfit vessel?"
Goddess, "Although I have sought my 'female state' for these twelve years, I have not yet found
it. Reverend Shariputra, if a magician were to incarnate a woman by magic, would you ask her,
'What prevents you from transforming yourself out of your female state?'"
Shariputra, "No! Such a woman would not really exist, so what would there be to transform?"
"Just so, Reverend Shariputra, all things do not really exist. Now, would you think, "What
prevents one whose nature is that of a magical incarnation from transforming herself out of her
female state?" Thereupon, the goddess employed her magical power to cause the elder Shariputra
to appear in her form and to cause herself to appear in his form. Then the goddess, transformed
into Shariputra, said to Shariputra, transformed into a goddess, "Reverend Shariputra, what
prevents you from transforming yourself out of your female state?"
And Shariputra, transformed into a goddess, replied, "I no longer appear in the form of a male!
My body has changed into the body of a woman! I do not know what to transform!"
The goddess continued, "If the elder could again change out of the female state, then all women
could also change out of their female states. All women appear in the form of women in just the
same way as the elder appears in the form of a woman. While they are not women in reality, they
appear in the form of women. With this in mind, the Buddha said, 'In all things, there is neither
male nor female.'"
36. Buddhism. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 7
The sister Soma... when she was returning from her alms-round, after her meal, entered Dark
Wood for noonday rest, and plunging into its depths sat down under a certain tree. Then Mara
the evil one, desirous of arousing fear, wavering and dread in her, desirous of making her desist
from concentrated thought, went up to her and addressed her in verse,
That opportunity [for arahantship] the sages may
attain is hard to win. But with her two-finger wit
that may no woman ever hope to achieve.
Then Soma thought, "Who now is this, human or non-human, that speaks verse? Surely it is
Mara the Evil One who speaks verse, desirous of arousing in me fear, wavering and dread...."
The sister replied in verses:
To one for whom the question arises:
Am I a woman [in these matters], or
am I a man, or what not am I then?
To such a one is Mara fit to talk.
Then Mara the Evil One thought, "Sister Soma recognizes me!" and sad and sorrowful he
37. Buddhism. Samyutta Nikaya i.128, Suttas of Sisters
Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 7: The point of this story is not that in this world there should be equality
among the sexes. Rather, Buddhism teaches that sexual differentiation belongs only to the phenomenal
sphere, which is transient and illusory. In Reality, beyond all appearances, sexuality is transcended.
Compare Matthew 22.30, p. 353. A similar story can be found in chapter 12 of the Lotus Sutra, where
the daughter of a dragon king transforms herself into the form of a man to attain Buddhahood, thereby
showing Shariputra that he should not regard a woman to be a 'filthy vessel' incapable of receiving the
Law. And in the Surangama Sutra, the bodhisattva Dridamati asks Gopaka-deva what kind of merit
enables a woman to transform her female body into a male body, and the god replies that the problem
is not important for the aspirant of the Mahayana as the discrimination does not exist in the mind of an
enlightened being. What should the woman's nature signify when consciousness is tense and firmly set,
when knowledge rolls ever on, when she by insight rightly comprehends the Dhamma? Samyutta Nikaya
i.128: For an exemplary female disciple of Jesus, see Mark 14.3-9, p. 765.
World Scripture
Any good society, whether a church or a polity, is united with the Absolute and guided by the truth.
Many religions, therefore, regard themselves as the unique people of God, bound corporately in a
special, covenanted relationship with the Lord. Indeed, not one but several religions--Judaism, Islam,
Christianity, Shinto, and Sikhism, among them--have understood themselves to be 'chosen' by God and
uniquely qualified to establish a godly society. Likewise, in Buddhism the Sangha is a special community,
distinguished by its discipline and devotion to the Dhamma and blessed by people who have attained
the highest goal. A people that recognizes itself to be the focus of God's special concern, or that devotes
itself to the exemplary life called for by the truth, also recognizes that it is responsible to manifest the
highest standards of faith and behavior. If it does so, it will be the recipient of great blessings.
Happy is the unity of the Sangha.
Happy is the discipline of the united ones.
1. Buddhism. Dhammapada 194
All jealousies have vanished in the company of the saints.
All are my friends now, there being no enemy or stranger.
2. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Kanara, M.5, p. 1299
You are the best community that has been raised up for mankind. You enjoin right conduct and
forbid indecency; and you believe in God.
3. Islam. Qur'an 3.110
Kanara, M.5: On the Pangat, the Sikh communal meal, see note to Asa, M.1 and Sri-ki-Var Mahalla, M.1,
p. 280. Qur'an 3.110: The `ummah, the community of all Muslims, is the foundation of the Islamic state
and the ideal of a pan-Islamic world state. Cf. Qur'an 3.103-5, pp. 271f.
If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all
peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
4. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Exodus 19.5-6
"Many waters cannot quench love" (Song of Solomon 8.7). If the idolatrous nations of the world
were to unite to destroy the love between God and Israel, they would be unable to do so.
5. Judaism. Midrash, Exodus Rabbah
The land of great Japan is the divine land. Through the divine protection of the gods, the country
is at peace. And through the reverence of the nation, the divine dignity is increased.
6. Shinto. Records of Princess Yamatohime
"And you are My witnesses, says the Lord, and I am God" (Isaiah 43.12). Rabbi Simeon ben
Yohai taught, "If you are 'my witnesses,' I am the Lord, and if you are not my witnesses, I am
not, as it were, the Lord."
7. Judaism. Midrash, Pesikta de Rab Kahana 102b
You are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the
foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the
whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also
are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
8. Christianity. Bible, Ephesians 2.19-22
Jesus... said to them, "Who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the
Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh
and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are
Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against
it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be
bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
9. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 16.15-19
Exodus 19.5-6: Cf. Deuteronomy 6.80-8.20, p. 1084; Sanhedrin 11.1, p. 580; Sifra 93d, p. 963. Exodus
Rabbah: See Song of Solomon 8.6-7, p. 254. Cf. Canticles Rabbah 2.14, p. 764; compare Ephesians 5.3233, p. 261. Records of Princess Yamatohime: This stresses the interdependence of the kami and
humanity. Peskita de Rab Kahana 102b: The people of God have the vocation to witness to the divine
Reality. The honor and purposes of God Himself depends upon them. Compare John 17.20-21, p. 271.
Matthew 16.15-19: This passage founds the Christian church on the apostleship of Peter, the first
disciple. Thus all Christians are first of all, like Peter, disciples of Christ. For Roman Catholics, the
authority of Peter is the basis for the primacy of the Pope, who as the Bishop of Rome stands as a
successor to Peter who founded the Roman church. The authority of Peter is symbolized by the 'Keys;' it
is the power to 'bind' and 'loose,' meaning the authority to decide on questions of religious law. Pearl of
Great Price, Moses 7.18: Cf. Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 21, pp. 1119f; Isaiah 51.11, p. 543. Suhi Chhant,
M.5: Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh Guru who composed this passage, built the Golden Temple at
Amritsar in the Punjab which has become the central Sikh shrine and place of pilgrimage. It is regarded
here as the substantiation of the ideal of the City of God--cf. Gauri, Ravidas, p. 1118. The Sikhs regard
themselves as a holy people, the khalsa, the Pure. Sun Myung Moon, 8-26-86: This speaks of the coming
Kingdom of Heaven on earth, which will embrace people of all races and nations.
And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in
righteousness; and there was no poor among them.
10. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7.18
Immutable is the city of the Divine Master,
Wherein those contemplating the Name attain joy.
In this city founded by the Creator Himself
Are fulfilled desires of the heart:
The Lord Himself has founded it; all joys are obtained herein.
To our progeny, brothers and disciples has come the bloom of joy.
As they sing praise of the Lord, perfection incarnate,
Their objectives are fulfilled.
11. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Suhi Chhant, M.5, p. 783
Whoever associates with pure love, and those whose love resembles God's, are received joyfully
into the Kingdom of Heaven.
12. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 8-26-86
World Scripture
The ideal of a righteous society is the topic of this section. The social ideal is one where there is liberty,
justice, kindness, and peace. Some of the verses of scripture which teach these human rights and social
values have stirred people of every age to the struggle for freedom and justice. Additional material on
this topic, particularly where it concerns the government's obligation to insure these rights, will be
found throughout Chapter 20.
Furthermore, we look at passages which describe the ideal society in comparison with the
decadence of societies in the existing world. Some enunciate general principles. Others describe
the ideal society as it was purportedly realized long ago in a past Golden Age. Thus the Chinese
religions idealized the legendary days of the ancient sage-kings. In Judaism and Christianity,
conversely, the ideal society is to be realized in the future, at the consummation of history, with
the establishment of The Kingdom of Heaven, pp. 1110-1120.
Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Leviticus 25.10
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
To the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
2. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Amos 5.23-24
Leviticus 25.10: This well-known passage, which is carved on America's Liberty Bell, was originally a
proclamation of the Jubilee Year, once every fifty years, in ancient Israel. At the jubilee, all debts were
forgiven, all Hebrew slaves freed, all leases expired, and all property returned to its original owners. This
practice was based upon the premise that the land belongs to God, to be granted to the clans and
families of Israel in perpetuity; it is not private property to be bought and sold. It prevented the
impoverishment of poor farmers by wealthy creditors. Amos 5.23-24: Cf. Micah 6.6-8, pp. 860f.; Psalm
24.3-6, p. 229.
Lo! God enjoins justice and kindness, and giving to kinsfolk, and forbids lewdness and
abomination and wickedness. He exhorts you in order that you may take heed!
3. Islam. Qur'an 16.90
The world stands upon three things: upon the Law, upon worship, and upon showing kindness.
4. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 1.2
God said, "O My servants, I have forbidden wickedness for Myself and have made it forbidden
among you, so do not do injustice to one another."
5. Islam. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 24
Two hundred cattle are under one stick, but two hundred human beings are under two hundred
6. African Traditional Religions. Nupe Proverb (Nigeria)
Thus says the Lord, "Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor
him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless, and the
widow, nor shed innocent blood."
7. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Jeremiah 22.3
Now is the gracious Lord's ordinance promulgated,
No one shall cause another pain or injury;
All mankind shall live in peace together,
Under a shield of administrative benevolence.
8. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sri Raga, M.5, p. 74
In this world may obedience triumph over disobedience,
May peace triumph over discord,
May generosity triumph over niggardliness,
May love triumph over contempt,
May the true-spoken word triumph over the false-spoken word,
May truth triumph over falsehood.
9. Zoroastrianism. Yasna 60.5
Nupe Proverb: People are by nature independent and can be expected to drive themselves. Cf. Qur'an
2.256, p. 676; Tao Te Ching 60, p. 1065; Baba Batra 60b, p. 1065. Sri Raga, M.5: Cf. Gauri, Ravidas, p.
When the right principles of man operate, the growth of good government is rapid, and when the
right principles of soil operate, the growth of vegetables is rapid. Indeed, government is
comparable to a fast-growing plant. There- fore the conduct of government depends upon the
men. The right men are obtained by the ruler's personal character. The cultivation of the person is
to be done through the Way, and the cultivation of the Way is to be done through benevolence
10. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 20
I exist for my family, my family exists for our society, our society exists for our nation, our
nation exists for the world, all the world exists for God, and God exists for you and me, for all
mankind. In this great circle of give and take there is harmony, there is unity, and there is an
eternal process of increasing prosperity. Furthermore, since in this circuit all existence will fulfill
its purpose of creation, there is abundant and profound joy. This is the Kingdom of Heaven, in
which feelings of happiness overflow.
11. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73
If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become
illumined and spiritual; but if enmity and hatred exist within it, destruction and dispersion are
inevitable. This is likewise true of a city. If those who dwell within it manifest a spirit of accord
and fellowship, it will progress steadily and human conditions become brighter, whereas through
enmity and strife it will be degraded and its inhabitants scattered. In the same way the people of
a nation develop and advance toward civilization and enlightenment through love and accord,
and are disintegrated by war and strife. Finally, this is true of humanity itself in the aggregate.
When love is realized and the ideal spiritual bonds unite the hearts of men, the whole human race
will be uplifted, the world will continually grow more spiritual and radiant, and the happiness
and tranquillity of mankind be immeasurably increased. Warfare and strife will be uprooted,
disagreement and dissension pass away, and Universal Peace unite the nations and peoples of the
world. All mankind will dwell together as one family, blend as the waves of one sea, shine as
stars of one firmament, and appear as fruits of the same tree. This is the happiness and felicity of
humankind. This is the illumination of man, the glory eternal and life everlasting; this is the
divine bestowal.
12. Baha'i Faith. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace
Doctrine of the Mean 20: See Great Learning, pp. 682f.; Mencius II.A.6, p. 216; and Great Learning 8, p.
Let there be a small country with a few inhabitants. Though there be labor-saving contrivances,
the people would not use them. Let the people mind death and not migrate far. Though there be
boats and carriages, there would be no occasion to ride in them. Though there be armor and
weapons, there would be no occasion to display them.
Let people revert to the practice of knotting ropes [instead of writing], and be contented with
their food, pleased with their clothing, satisfied with their houses, and happy with their customs.
Though there be a neighboring country in sight, and the people hear each other's cocks crowing
and dogs barking, they would grow old and die without having anything to do with each other.
13. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 80
When the eighty-four thousand kings of the eighty-four thousand cities of India are contented
with their own territories and with their own kingly state and their own hoards of treasure, they
will not attack one another or raise mutual strife. They will gain their thrones by the due
accumulation of the merit of their former deeds; they will be satisfied with their own royal state,
and will not destroy one another nor show their mettle by laying waste whole provinces. When
all the eighty-four thousand kings of the eighty-four thousand capital cities of India think of their
mutual welfare and feel mutual affection and joy... contented in their own domains... India will
be prosperous, well-fed, pleasant, and populous.
14. Buddhism. Golden Light Sutra
And Judah and Israel dwelt in safety, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, every man under his vine
and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon.
15. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, 1 Kings 4.25
Rama, whose arms reached to his knees, the powerful elder brother of Lakshmana, ruled the
earth in glory and performed many sacrifices with his sons, brothers, and kinsfolk. No widow
was ever found in distress nor was there any danger from snakes or disease during his reign;
there were no malefactors in his kingdom nor did any suffer harm; no aged person ever attended
the funeral of a younger relative; happiness was universal; each attended to his duty and they had
only to look to Rama to give up enmity. Men lived for a thousand years, each having a thousand
sons who were free from infirmity and anxiety; trees bore fruit and flowers perpetually; Parjanya
sent down rain when it was needed and Maruta blew auspiciously; all works undertaken bore
happy results and all engaged in their respective duties and eschewed evil. All were endowed
with good qualities; all were devoted to pious observances, and Rama ruled over the kingdom for
ten thousand years.
16. Hinduism. Ramayana, Yuddha Kanda 130
Tao Te Ching 80: This is the ideal of simple village life rooted in tradition and interwoven with loving ties
of family and friends. It is quite the opposite of life of the modern jet-setter who travels everywhere but
has no roots. For a similar Buddhist image, see Digha Nikaya iii.74-75, p. 1116. Cf. Tao Te Ching 32, p.
1063; Chuang Tzu 9, p. 320.
Long, long ago, brethren, there was a sovereign overlord named Strongtyre, a righteous king
ruling in righteousness, lord of the four quarters of the earth, conqueror, the protector of his
people, possessor of the seven precious things. His were these seven precious things: the Wheel,
the Elephant, the Horse, the Gem, the Woman, the House-father, the Counselor. More than a
thousand sons also were his, heroes, vigorous of frame, crushers of the hosts of the enemy. He
lived in supremacy over this earth to its ocean bounds, having conquered it, not by the scourge,
not by the sword, but by righteousness....
King Strongtyre, having in due form established his eldest son on the throne, shaved hair and
beard, donned yellow robes and went forth from home into the homeless state. But on the
seventh day after the royal hermit had gone forth, the Celestial Wheel disappeared.
When the new king was informed that the Celestial Wheel had disappeared, he was grieved and
afflicted with sorrow. He went to the royal hermit and told him, saying, "Know, sire, verily the
Celestial Wheel has disappeared." The royal hermit replied, "Grieve not, dear son, that the
Celestial Wheel has disappeared, nor be afflicted. The Celestial Wheel is no paternal heritage of
yours. You yourself do good, as I did, and earn the Wheel. Act up to the noble ideal of the duty
which is set before true world sovereigns. Then it well may be that if you carry out the noble
duty of a Wheel-turning monarch, on the feast of the full moon when you go with bathed head to
observe the feast on the upper terrace, the Celestial Wheel will manifest itself with its thousand
spokes, its tire, hub, and all its parts complete."
"But what, sire, is this noble duty of a Wheel-turning monarch?"
"This, dear son, that you, leaning on the Law, honoring, respecting, and revering it, doing
homage to it, hallowing it, being yourself a banner of the Law, a signal of the Law, having the
Law as your master, should provide the right watch, ward, and protection for your own people,
for the army, for the nobles, for vassals, for brahmins, and householders, for town and country
dwellers, for the religious world, and for beasts and birds. Throughout your kingdom let no
wrongdoing prevail. And whosoever in your kingdom is poor, to him let wealth be given.
"And when, dear son, in your kingdom men of religious life, renouncing the carelessness arising
from the intoxication of the senses and devoted to forbearance and compassion, each mastering
self, each calming self, each perfecting self, shall come to you from time to time and question
you concerning what is good and what is bad, what is criminal and what is not, what is to be
done and what left undone, what line of action will in the long run work for weal or for woe, you
should hear what they have to say.... This, dear son, is the noble duty of a sovereign of the
"Even so, sire," answered the anointed king, and obeying, carried out the noble duty of a
sovereign lord. To him, thus behaving, when on the feast of the full moon he had gone in due
observance with bathed head to the chief upper terrace, the Celestial Wheel revealed itself, with
its thousand spokes, its tire, its navel, and all its parts complete. And seeing this it occurred to the
king, "It has been told me that a king to whom on such an occasion the Celestial Wheel reveals
itself completely becomes a Wheel-turning monarch. May I, even I, also become a sovereign of
the world!"
Then, brethren, the king arose from his seat, and uncovering his robe from one shoulder, took in
his left hand a pitcher, and with his right hand sprinkled up over the Celestial Wheel, saying,
"Roll onward, O lord Wheel! Go forth and overcome, O lord Wheel!" Then the Celestial Wheel
rolled onwards towards the region of the East, and after it went the Wheel-turning king, and with
him his army, horses and chariots and elephants and men. And in whatever place the Wheel
stopped, there the king, the victorious war-lord, took up his abode, and with him his four-fold
army. Then all the rival kings came to the sovereign king and said, "Come, O mighty king!
Welcome, O mighty king! All is thine, O mighty king! Teach us, O mighty king!"
The king, the sovereign war-lord spoke thus, "You shall slay no living thing. You shall not take
what has not been given. You shall not act wrongly, touching bodily desires. You shall speak no
lie. You shall drink no maddening drink. Enjoy your possessions as you have been wont to do.
Then, brethren, all that were enemy kings became vassals to the king, the Wheel-turner.
17. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya iii.59-62, Cakkavatti-Sihanada Suttanta
Confucius said, "The practice of the Great Tao and the eminent men of the Three Dynasties--this
I have never seen in person, and yet I have a mind to follow them. When the Great Tao
prevailed, the world was a commonwealth; men of talent and virtue were selected, mutual
confidence was emphasized, and brotherhood was cultivated. Therefore, men did not regard as
parents only their own parents, nor did they treat as sons only their own sons. Old people were
able to enjoy their old age; young men were able to employ their talents; juniors respected their
elders; helpless widows, orphans, and cripples were well cared for. Men had their respective
occupations, and women their homes. They hated to see wealth lying about in waste, and they
did not hoard it for their own use. They hated not to use their energies, and they used their
energies not for their own benefit. Thus evil schemings were repressed, and robbers, thieves, and
traitors no longer appeared, so that the front door remained open. This was called the Ta-tung
(Grand Unity).
"Now the Great Tao has fallen into obscurity, and the world is in the possession of families. Each
regards as parents only his own parents and treats as sons only his own sons; wealth and labor
are employed for selfish purpose. The sovereigns take it as the proper behavior (li) that their
states should be hereditary; they endeavor to make their cities and suburbs strong, their ditches
and moats secure. Propriety (li) and justice (i) are used as the norms to regulate the relationship
between ruler and subject, to ensure affection between father and son, harmony between
brothers, and concord between husband and wife; to set up institutions, organize farms and
hamlets, honor the brave and the wise, and bring merit to the individual. Hence schemes and
plottings come about and men take up arms."
18. Confucianism. Book of Ritual 7.1.2
It was when the Great Tao declined,
That there appeared the doctrines of humanity (jen) and righteousness (i).
It was when knowledge and wisdom arose,
That there appeared much hypocrisy.
It was when the six family relationships lost their harmony,
That there was talk of filial piety and paternal affection.
It was when the country fell into chaos and confusion,
That there was talk of loyalty and trustworthiness.
Banish sageliness, discard wisdom,
And the people will be benefited a hundredfold.
Banish humanity, discard righteousness,
And the people will return to filial piety and paternal affection.
Banish skill, discard profit,
And thieves and robbers will disappear.
These three are the ill-provided adornments of life,
And must be subordinated to something higher:
Seek the simple, embrace primitivity;
Reduce the self, lessen the desires.
19. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 18-19
Digha Nikaya iii.59-62: The Wheel is the symbol of the Dhamma, which the Buddha turned on preaching
his opening sermon at Deer Park near Varanasi. The ideal king rules according to right, not might, and all
submit to him willingly; without warfare or bloodshed he conquers the world. This sutra describes the
suffering social degradation which follows when the Dhamma is not practiced, and predicts that the
world will one day return to the practice of the truth and realize the social ideal once again at the
coming of the Maitreya Buddha. See other excerpts of this sutta on pp. 1064, 1091f., 1107, and 1116.
Book of Ritual 7.1.2: More of this passage, p. 663, refers to the illustrious ideal rulers Y, T'ang, Wen, Wu,
and the Duke of Chou. Cf. Mencius I.A.1, p. 1075; I.A.7, p. 974. On the degradation of humanity, cf. Laws
of Manu 1.81-86, p. 433. Tao Te Ching 18-19: Cf. Tao Te Ching 32, 1063; 37, p. 554; 38, p. 434; 51, p.
294; I Ching 42, p. 1066.
World Scripture
CHAPTER 5: The Purpose of Life in the
Natural World
The Sanctity of Nature
Reverence for Life
The Microcosm
The Lord of Spirits
Creation Rejoices
This chapter treats the purpose for human life in relation to the natural world. The religions give
a two-fold teaching, for the human being is both a part of nature and yet qualitatively distinct as
the highest and central entity in nature. One the one hand, since every creature has its value and
purpose in the cosmos, scriptures teach an ethic of reverence for all life and stewardship of the
environment. On the other hand, the scriptures teach, in various ways, that the human being is
the crown of creation. The human is the microcosm of the cosmos, encompassing all things. He
or she is uniquely in God's image and able to realize divinity. Hence humans are given the
commission to take dominion over the things of creation. But this right of dominion should not
be misunderstood as sanctioning domination, but rather in the sense of contributing to and
enhancing the harmony and beauty of the natural world. When human beings are firmly at one
with Absolute Reality, they emit a luster and a spiritual fragrance that perfects their environment.
We begin with a collection of teachings on the value of every creature, on the sanctity of the
natural world, and on the earth as the great source of life. The second section brings together
passages on the ethic of reverence for life and stewardship for the environment. The third section
contains passages which describe the human being as the microcosm, encompassing in his or her
being the totality of the earth and its creatures. In the fourth section are texts commissioning
humans to take dominion over the earth and to rule the earth as God's 'vicegerent.' This right to
rule is founded upon the unique position and qualification of human beings as manifestations of
Ultimate Reality, endowed with divine creativity. In the fifth section are teachings on the
lordship of human beings extending over the spiritual realms as well. The final group of passages
describes the highest union of nature's inherent beauty and power with human creativity and
love, when the creation is sanctified by ideal humanity and will 'obtain the glorious liberty of the
children of God.'
World Scripture
Reverence for life begins with the recognition that human beings are but one species of living beings. All
living beings are God's sacred creations, endowed with spirit, consciousness, and intelligence. Our
reverence is heightened by the recognition that the interdependent web of life is wonderfully selfsustaining and productive. We see the results of human depredation of the environment, which have
damaged the original balance of nature. This section concludes with texts praising Mother Earth as the
Source of life and its great Sustainer and Supporter.
The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein.
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 24.1
This earth is a garden,
The Lord its gardener,
Cherishing all, none neglected.
2. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Mahj Ashtpadi 1, M.3, p. 118
Even in a single leaf of a tree, or a tender blade of grass, the awe-inspiring Deity manifests Itself.
3. Shinto. Urabe-no-Kanekuni
Urabe-no-Kanekuni: Shinto is pantheistic and teaches the omnipresence of the kami. It speaks of the
yaoyorozu-no-kami, Eight Million Kami, to stress this point. Cf. Nihon Shoki 22, p. 372.
The stream crosses the path, the path crosses the stream:
Which of them is the elder?
Did we not cut the path to go and meet this stream?
The stream had its origin long, long ago.
It had its origin in the Creator.
He created things pure, pure, tano.
4. African Traditional Religions. Ashanti Verse (Ghana and Ivory Coast)
Have you considered the soil you till?
Do you yourselves sow it, or are We the Sowers?
Did We will, We would make it broken orts, and you will remain bitterly
jesting-"We are debt-loaded;
nay, we have been robbed."
Have you considered the water you drink?
Did you send it down from the clouds, or did We send it?
Did We will, We would make it bitter; so why are you not thankful?
Have you considered the fire you kindle?
Did you make its timber to grow, or did We make it?
We Ourselves made it for a reminder,
and a boon to the desert-dwellers.
5. Islam. Qur'an 56.63-73
All you under the heaven! Regard heaven as your father, earth as your mother, and all things as
your brothers and sisters.
6. Shinto. Oracle of the Kami of Atsuta
No creature is there crawling on the earth,
no bird flying with its wings,
but they are nations like yourselves.
We have neglected nothing in the Book;
then to their Lord they shall be mustered.
7. Islam. Qur'an 6.38
God's hand has touched even every small blade of grass which grows in the field.... All creatures
we see contain God's deep heart and tell the story of God's deep love.
8. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 6-28-59
I say, "Just as the consciousness of a man born without any sense organs [i.e., one who is blind,
deaf, dumb, crippled, etc. from birth] is not manifest, likewise the consciousness of beings of
earth-body [e.g., atoms, minerals] is also not manifest. Nevertheless such a man experiences pain
when struck or cut by a weapon, and so also do the beings of earth-body. Likewise for waterbeings... fire-beings... plants... animals... air beings: their consciousness and experiences of pain
are [actual though] not manifest."
9. Jainism. Acarangasutra 1.28-161
Oracle of the Kami of Atsuta: See p. 274n.
Tao gave them birth;
The power of Tao reared them,
Shaped them according to their kinds,
Perfected them, giving to each its strength.
Therefore of the ten thousand things there is not one that does not
worship Tao and do homage to its power. Yet no mandate ever went forth
that accorded to Tao the right to be worshipped, nor to its power the
right to receive homage. It was always and of itself so.
Therefore as Tao bore them and the power of Tao reared them, made them
grow, fostered them, harbored them, brewed for them, so you must
Rear them, but do not lay claim to them;
Control them, but never lean upon them,
Be their steward, but do not manage them.
This is called the Mysterious Power.
10. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 51
Come back, O Tigers!, to the woods again,
and let it not be leveled with the plain.
For without you, the axe will lay it low.
You, without it, forever homeless go.
11. Buddhism. Khuddaka Patha
A horse or a cow has four feet. That is Nature. Put a halter around
the horse's head and put a string through the cow's nose, that is man.
Therefore it is said, "Do not let man destroy Nature. Do not let
cleverness destroy destiny [the natural order]."
12. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 17
They gave the sacrifice to the East,
the East said, "Give it to the West,"
the West said, "Give it to God,"
God said, "Give it to Earth, for Earth is senior."
13. African Traditional Religions. Idoma Prayer
The solid sky, the cloudy sky, the good sky, the straight sky.
The earth produces herbs. The herbs cause us to live. They cause long
life. They cause us to be happy.
The good life, may it prevail with the air. May it increase. May it be
straight to the end.
Sweet Medicine's earth is good. Sweet Medicine's earth is completed.
Sweet Medicine's earth follows the eternal ways. Sweet
Medicine's earth is washed and flows.
14. Native American Religions. Cheyenne Song
Tao Te Ching 51: The Chinese word te, here translated 'power,' may also be translated 'virtue' in the
sense of efficacy. This passage can also be taken in a political sense as prescribing the stewardship of
good government. Chuang Tzu 17: Cf. Chuang Tzu 10, p. 799. Cheyenne Song: cf. Cree Round Dance, p.
In the land of Yamato there are many mountains;
Ascending to the heaven of Mount Kagu,
I gaze down on the country, and see
Smoke rising here and there over the land,
Sea gulls floating here and there over the sea.
A fine country is this,
The island of dragonflies, this
Province of Yamato.
15. Shinto. Man'yoshu I
On the eastern side of this Himalaya, the king of mountains, are green-flowing streams, having
their source in slight and gentle mountain slopes; blue, white, and the hundred-leafed, the white
lily and the tree of paradise, in a region overrun and beautified with all manner of trees and
flowing shrubs and creepers, resounding with the cries of swans, ducks, and geese, inhabited by
troops of monks and ascetics....
16. Buddhism. Jataka
Perhaps if we are lucky,
Our earth mother
Will wrap herself in a fourfold robe of white meal,
Full of frost flowers;
A floor of ice will spread over the world,
The forests because of the cold will lean to one side,
Their arms will break beneath the weight of snow.
When the days are thus,
The flesh of our earth mother will crack with cold.
Then in the spring when she is replete with living waters,
Our mothers,
All different kinds of corn,
In their earth mother we shall lay to rest.
With their earth mother's living waters
They will be made into new beings;
Into their sun father's daylight
They will come out standing;
Yonder to all directions
They will stretch out their hands calling for rain.
Then with their fresh waters
The rain makers will pass us on our roads.
Clasping their young ones [the ears of corn] in their arms,
They will rear their children.
Gathering them into our houses,
Following these toward whom our thoughts bend,
With our thoughts following them,
Thus we shall always live.
17. Native American Religions. Zuni Song
Man'yoshu I: 'Smoke' and 'sea gulls' suggest the plentitude and harmony among man and nature. Cf.
Kagura-uta, p. 140; Kojiki 110, p. 1066. Jataka: The mountains, pristine and full of natural beauty, have
always been the preferred environment for ascetics, where they may most readily strive to penetrate
the Absolute. In Asia, Buddhist monasteries and temples are often associated with nature preserves.
Zuni Song: Cf. Cree Round Dance, p. 55; Sioux Tradition, p. 370; Winnebago Invocation, p. 373.
Truth, Eternal Order that is great and stern,
Consecration, Austerity, Prayer, and Ritual--these uphold the Earth.
May she, Queen of what has been and will be,
make a wide world for us.
Earth, which has many heights and slopes and
the unconfined plain that bind men together,
Earth that bears plants of various healing powers,
may she spread wide for us and thrive.
Earth, in which lie the sea, the river, and other waters,
in which food and cornfields have come to be,
in which live all that breathes and that moves,
may she confer on us the finest of her yield....
Set me, O Earth, amidst what is thy center and thy navel,
and vitalizing forces that emanate from thy body.
Purify us from all sides. Earth is my Mother; her son am I;
and Heaven my Father: may he fill us with plenty....
There lies the fire within the Earth,
and in plants,
and waters carry it;
the fire is in stone.
There is a fire deep within men,
a fire in the kine,
and a fire in horses:
The same fire that burns in the heavens;
the mid-air belongs to this divine Fire.
Men kindle this fire that bears the oblation
and loves the melted butter.
May Earth, clad in her fiery mantle,
make me aflame;
may she sharpen me bright....
Whatever I dig from thee, Earth,
may that have quick growth again.
O purifier, may we not injure thy vitals or thy heart....
As a horse scatters dust, so did Earth, since she was born,
scatter the people who dwelt on the land,
and she joyously sped on, the world's protectress,
supporter of forest trees and plants.
What I [Earth] speak, I speak with sweetness;
what I look at endears itself to me;
and I am fiery and impetuous: others who fly at me with wrath
I smite down.
Peaceful, sweet-smelling, gracious, filled with milk,
and bearing nectar in her breast,
may Earth give with the milk her blessings to me.
Thou art the vessel, the Mother of the people,
the fulfiller of wishes, far-extending.
Whatever is wanting in thee is filled
by Prajapati, first-born of Eternal Order [the first god].
May those born of thee, O Earth,
be, for our welfare, free from sickness and waste.
Wakeful through a long life, we shall become
bearers of tribute for thee.
Earth, my Mother! set me securely with bliss
in full accord with Heaven. Wise One,
uphold me in grace and splendor.
18. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 12.1
Atharva Veda 12.1: Vv. 1-3, 12, 19-21, 35, 57-63. Cf. Rig Veda 1.164.49, p. 146; Candi-Mahatmya 10, p.
The earth was once a human being: Old One made her out of a woman. "You will be the Mother
of all people," he said.
Earth is alive yet, but she has changed. The soil is her flesh, the rocks are her bones, the wind is
her breath, trees and grass her hair. She lives spread out, and we live on her. When she moves we
have an earthquake.
After taking the woman and changing her to earth, Old One gathered some of her flesh and rolled
it into balls, as people do with mud or clay. He made the first group of these balls into the
ancients, the beings of the early world. The ancients were people, yet also animals. In form some
looked human while others walked on all fours like animals. Some could fly like birds; others
could swim like fishes. All had the gift of speech, as well as greater powers and cunning than
either animals or people.
Besides the ancients, real people and real animals lived on the earth at that time. Old One made
the people out of the last balls of mud he took from the earth. He rolled them over and over,
shaped them like Indians, and blew on them to bring them alive. They were so ignorant that they
were the most helpless of all the creatures Old One had made. Old One made people and animals
into males and females so that they might breed and multiply.
Thus all living beings came from the earth. When we look around, we see part of our Mother
19. Native American Religions. Okanogan Creation
Okanogan Creation: Cf. Aitareya Upanishad 1-3, pp. 306f. Rig Veda 10.90.6-16, pp. 868f; Bhagavad Gita
14.4, p. 148.
World Scripture
Passages in this section prescribe the ethic proper to reverence for life. There is, first of all, the ethic of
ahimsa, nonviolence toward all living beings. Religious vegetarianism is motivated by this ethic. Then we
have passages on the ethic of proper stewardship, recognizing that the natural world is given to humans
as a trust, to be tended, maintained, and made fruitful. These deal with doing kindness to animals in
distress, the proper management of natural resources, agriculture, animal husbandry, hunting, and
As a mother with her own life guards the life of her own child, let all- embracing thoughts for all
that lives be thine.
1. Buddhism. Khuddaka Patha, Metta Sutta
Have benevolence towards all living beings.
2. Jainism. Tattvarthasutra 7.11
The mode of living which is founded upon a total harmlessness towards all creatures or [in case
of actual necessity] upon a minimum of such harm, is the highest morality.
3. Hinduism. Mahabharata, Shantiparva 262.5-6
One should not injure, subjugate, enslave, torture, or kill any animal, living being, organism, or
sentient being. This doctrine of nonviolence is immaculate, immutable, and eternal. Just as
suffering is painful to you, in the same way it is painful, disquieting, and terrifying to all animals,
living beings, organisms, and sentient beings.
4. Jainism. Acarangasutra 4.25-26
One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it
5. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)
Metta Sutta: Cf. Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 4, p. 373; Milarepa, p. 316; Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 1,
p. 1034.
The Exalted One was entering Savatthi when he saw some youths ill-treating a snake with a
stick. Then he uttered these verses of uplift,
Whoso wreaks injury with a rod
On creatures fain for happiness,
When the self hereafter he seeks happiness,
Not his, it may be, happiness to win.
6. Buddhism. Udana 11-12
This is the quintessence of wisdom: not to kill anything. Know this to be the legitimate
conclusion from the principle of reciprocity with regard to non-killing. He should cease to injure
living beings whether they move or not, on high, below, and on earth. For this has been called
the Nirvana, which consists in peace....
A true monk should not accept such food and drink as has been especially prepared for him
involving the slaughter of living beings. He should not partake of a meal which contains but a
particle of forbidden food: this is the Law of him who is rich in control. Whatever he suspects, he
may not eat. A man who guards his soul and subdues his senses, should never assent to anybody
killing living beings.
7. Jainism. Sutrakritanga 1.11.10-16
Without doing injury to living beings, meat cannot be had anywhere; and the killing of living
beings is not conducive to heaven; hence eating of meat should be avoided.
8. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 5.48
If one is trying to practice meditation and is still eating meat, he would be like a man closing his
ears and shouting loudly and then asserting that he heard nothing... Pure and earnest bhikshus,
when walking a narrow path, will never so much as tread on the growing grass beside the path.
How can a bhikshu, who hopes to become a deliverer of others, himself be living on the flesh of
other sentient beings? Pure and earnest bhikshus will never wear clothing made of silk, nor wear
boots made of leather for it involves the taking of life. Neither will they indulge in eating milk or
cheese because thereby they are depriving the young animals of that which is rightfully belongs
to them.
9. Buddhism. Surangama Sutra
Udana 11-12: Cf. Anguttara Nikaya iv.41-45, pp. 863f., condemning the slaughter of animals for ritual
Buy captive animals and give them freedom.
How commendable is abstinence that dispenses with the butcher!
While walking be mindful of worms and ants.
Be cautious with fire and do not set mountain woods or forests ablaze.
Do not go into the mountain to catch birds in nets, nor to the water to
poison fishes and minnows.
Do not butcher the ox that plows your field.
10. Taoism. Tract of the Quiet Way
At the openings of ant hills
Please have trustworthy men
Always put food and water,
Sugar and piles of grain.
Before and after taking food
Offer appropriate fare
To hungry ghosts, dogs,
Ants, birds, and so forth.
11. Buddhism. Nagarjuna, Precious Garland 249-50
"He that is wise, wins souls" (Proverbs 11.30). The rabbis said, "This refers to Noah, for in the
Ark he fed and sustained the animals with much care. He gave to each animal its special food,
and fed each at its proper period, some in the daytime and some at night. Thus he gave chopped
straw to the camel, barley to the ass, vine tendrils to the elephant, and glass to the ostrich. So for
twelve months he did not sleep by night or day, because all the time he was busy feeding the
12. Judaism. Midrash, Tanhuma, Noah 15a
According to Abu Hurairah, the Messenger of God said, "A man traveling along a road felt
extremely thirsty and went down a well and drank. When he came up he saw a dog panting with
thirst and licking the moist earth. "This animal," the man said, "is suffering from thirst just as
much as I was." So he went down the well again, filled his shoe with water, and taking it in his
teeth climbed out of the well and gave the water to the dog. God was pleased with his act and
granted him pardon for his sins."
Someone said, "O Messenger of God, will we then have a reward for the good done to our
animals?" "There will be a reward," he replied, "for anyone who gives water to a being that has a
tender heart."
13. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.
14. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Genesis 2.15
Precious Garland 249-50: Cf. Digha Nikaya ii.88, Nihon Shoki 22, p. 372.
Never does a Muslim plant trees or cultivate land, and birds or men or beasts eat out of them, but
that is a charity on his behalf.
15. Islam. Hadith of Muslim
For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but in the seventh year you shall let
it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild beasts
may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard.
16. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Exodus 23.10-11
A certain priest had been killed by the bite of a snake, and when they announced the matter to the
Blessed One, he said, "Surely now, O priests, that priest never suffused the four royal families of
snakes with his friendliness. For if that priest had suffused the four royal families of the snakes
with his friendliness, that priest would not have been killed by the bite of a snake....
Creatures without feet have my love,
And likewise those that have two feet,
And those that have four feet I love,
And those, too, that have many feet.
May those without feet harm me not,
And those with two feet cause no hurt;
May those with four feet harm me not,
Nor those who many feet possess.
Let creatures all, all things that live,
All beings of whatever kind,
See nothing that will bode them ill!
May naught of evil come to them!"
17. Buddhism. Vinaya Pitaka, Cullavagga v.6
Behold this buffalo, O Grandfather, which You have given us.
He is the chief of all four-leggeds upon our Sacred Mother.
From him the people live and with him they walk the sacred path.
18. Native American Religions. Sioux Prayer
Hadith of Muslim: And likewise if he should cause a stream to flow: see Hadith of Ibn Majah, p. 1015.
Exodus 23.10-11: The sabbath for the land signifies that God is the true landowner, and He gives the
land to us as its stewards. Land, like man and beast, deserves periodic rest; it should not be
overexploited. In addition, the fallow land provided food to the poor who had no property. Cf. Leviticus
25.1-7. Cullavagga v.6: Buddha gives in these verses a song for protection against harm from wild
animals. Sioux Prayer: The buffalo, as the source of food, clothing, and all life's necessities for the Sioux,
represents Mother Earth herself.
The cows have come and brought us good fortune,
may they stay in the stall and be pleased with us;
may they live here, mothers of calves, many-colored,
and yield milk for Indra on many dawns....
They are not lost, nor do robbers injure them, nor
the unfriendly frighten, nor wish to assail them;
the master of cattle lives together long
with these, and worships the gods and offers gifts.
The charger, whirling up dust, does not reach them,
they never take their way to the slaughtering stool,
the cows of the worshipping man roam about
over the widespread pastures, free from all danger.
To me the cows are Bhaga, they are Indra,
they [their milk] are a portion of the first-poured Soma.
These that are cows are Indra, O people!
the Indra I long for with heart and spirit.
Ye cows, you fatten the emaciated,
and you make the unlovely look beautiful,
make our house happy, you with pleasant lowings,
your power is glorified in our assemblies.
19. Hinduism. Rig Veda 6.28
A man should not breed a savage dog, nor place a shaking ladder in his house.
20. Judaism. Talmud, Ketubot 41b
Confucius fished with a line but not with a net. While fowling he would not aim at a roosting
21. Confucianism. Analects 7.26
If you do not allow nets with too fine a mesh to be used in large ponds, then there will be more
fish and turtles than they can eat; if hatchets and axes are permitted in the forests on the hills
only in the proper seasons, then there will be more timber than they can use... This is the first
step along the kingly way.
22. Confucianism. Mencius I.A.3
Rig Veda 6.28: Vv. 1, 3-6. This special regard for cows as sacred animals has persisted in India from Vedic
times till today. Ketubot 41b: Stewardship includes creating a safe environment. Cf. Deuteronomy 22.8,
a biblical ordinance requiring flat-roofed houses to have parapets.
When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not
destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them; for you may eat of them, but you shall not cut
them down. Are the trees in the field men that they should be besieged by you?
23. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Deuteronomy 20.19
The destruction of vegetable growth is an offense requiring expiation.
24. Buddhism. Pacittiya 11
There is a type of man whose... aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and
destroy crops and cattle. But God loves not mischief.
25. Islam. Qur'an 2.205
Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai used to say, "If there be a plant in your hand when they say to you,
'Behold the Messiah!', go and plant the plant, and afterwards go out and greet him."
26. Judaism. Talmud, Abot de Rabbi Nathan, Ver. B, 31
Rajah Koravya had a king banyan tree called Steadfast, and the shade of its widespread branches
was cool and lovely. Its shelter broadened to twelve leagues.... None guarded its fruit, and none
hurt another for its fruit. Now there came a man who ate his fill of fruit, broke down a branch,
and went his way. Thought the spirit dwelling in that tree, "How amazing, how astonishing it is,
that a man should be so evil as to break off a branch of the tree, after eating his fill. Suppose the
tree were to bear no more fruit." And the tree bore no more fruit.
27. Buddhism. Anguttara Nikaya iii.368
Deuteronomy 20.19: But contrast Qur'an 59.5. Pacittiya 11: This monastic rule refers to monks living in
forest dwellings. It is interpreted to mean that monks should never cut down large trees to clear the
land; they may only clear underbrush. Abot de Rabbi Nathan Ver. B, 31: Cf. Luke 14.16-24, p. 674.
Anguttara Nikaya iii.368: Cf. Nihon Shoki 22, p. 372.
World Scripture
These passages describe the human being as a microcosm of the universe, having the essences of all
things in him- or herself. As the microcosm, human beings have the foundation to know, use, and enjoy
all things. Of all creatures, humans have the widest scope of thought and action, encompassing all
things, knowing and appreciating all things, guiding and prospering all things, and transcending all
All that the Holy One created in the world He created in man.
1. Judaism. Talmud, Abot de Rabbi Nathan 31
We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in themselves, till it is clear to them that it is
the truth.
2. Islam. Qur'an 41.53
One who knows the inner self knows the external world as well. One who knows the external
world knows the inner self as well.
3. Jainism. Acarangasutra 1.147
The whole of existence arises in me,
In me arises the threefold world,
By me pervaded is this all,
Of naught else does this world consist.
4. Buddhism. Hevajra Tantra 8.41
The illimitable Void of the universe is capable of holding myriads of things of various shape and
form, such as the sun, the moon, stars, mountains, rivers, worlds, springs, rivulets, bushes,
woods, good men, bad men, dharmas pertaining to goodness or badness, deva planes, hells, great
oceans, and all the mountains of the Mahameru. Space takes in all these, and so does the
voidness of our nature. We say that the Essence of Mind is great because it embraces all things,
since all things are within our nature.
5. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 2
Abot de Rabbi Nathan 31: Cf. Berakot 10a, p. 211. Hevajra Tantra 8.41: Cf. Samyutta Nikaya i.62, p. 679.
Man is the product of the attributes of Heaven and Earth, by the interaction of the dual forces of
nature, the union of the animal and intelligent souls, and the finest subtle matter of the five
Heaven exercises the control of the strong and light force, and hangs out the sun and stars. Earth
exercises the control of the dark and weaker force, and gives vent to it in the hills and streams.
The five elements are distributed through the four seasons, and it is by their harmonious action
that the moon is produced, which therefore keeps waxing for fifteen days and waning for fifteen.
The five elements in their movements alternately displace and exhaust one another. Each one of
them, in the revolving course of the twelve months of the four seasons, comes to be in its turn the
fundamental one for the time.
The five notes of harmony, with their six upper musical accords, and the twelve pitch-tubes,
come each, in their revolutions among themselves, to be the first note of the scale.
The five flavors, with the six condiments, and the twelve articles of diet, come each one, in their
revolutions in the course of the year, to give its character to the food.
The five colors, with the six elegant figures, which they form on the two robes, come each one,
in their revolutions among themselves, to give the character of the dress that is worn.
Therefore Man is the heart and mind of Heaven and Earth, and the visible embodiment of the
five elements. He lives in the enjoyment of all flavors, the discriminating of all notes of
harmony, and the enrobing of all colors.
6. Confucianism. Book of Ritual 7.3.1-7
In the beginning the Self alone was here--no other thing that blinks the eye at all. He thought,
"What if I were to emanate worlds?"
He emanated these worlds, water, rays of light, death, the waters. Water is up there beyond the
sky; the sky supports it. The rays of light are the atmosphere; death the earth; what is underneath,
the waters.
He thought again, "Here now are these worlds. What if I were to emanate guardians?" He raised
a Man (Purusha) up from the water and gave him a form.
He brooded over him; when he had finished brooding over him, a mouth broke open on him the
likeness of an egg. From the mouth came speech and from speech Fire.
Nostrils broke open, from the nostrils came breath, from breath the Wind.
Eyes broke open, from the eyes came sight, from sight the Sun.
Ears broke open, from the ears came hearing, from hearing the Points of the Compass.
Skin broke out, from skin grew hairs, from the hairs plants and trees.
A heart broke out, from the heart came mind, from the mind the Moon.
A navel broke open, from the navel came the out-breath, from the out-breath Death.
A phallus broke forth, from the phallus came semen, from semen Water....
Those deities [the macrocosmic beings], Fire and the rest, after they had been sent forth, fell into
the great ocean. Then he [the Self] besieged him [the Purusha] with hunger and thirst. The deities
then spoke to him, "Allow us a place in which we may rest and take food."
He led a cow towards them. They said, "This is not enough." He led a horse towards them. They
said, "This is not enough." He led man towards them. Then they said, "Well done, indeed."
Therefore man is well done. He said to them, "Enter the man, each according to his place."
Then fire, having become speech, entered the mouth; the wind, having become breath, entered
the nostrils; the sun, having become sight, entered the eyes; the regions, having become hearing,
entered the ears; the plants and trees, having become hairs, entered the skin; the moon, having
become mind, entered the heart; death, having become out-breathing, entered the navel; water,
having become semen, entered the phallus....
The Self considered, "How could these guardians exist without me?"
Again he thought, "By what way shall I enter them?
"If, without me, speech is uttered, breath is drawn, eye sees, ear hears, skin feels, mind thinks,
sex organs procreate, then what am I?"
He thought, "Let me enter the guardians." Whereupon, opening the center of their skulls, he
entered. The door by which he entered is called the door of bliss.
7. Hinduism. Aitareya Upanishad 1.1-3.12
Book of Ritual 7.3.1-7: Cf. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 27, p. 311.
Each man is a microcosm of the universe. Your body is made of all the elements of the world.
Nature supplied all the ingredients that make your body, which means that the universe made
you by donating itself. If nature demanded that you refund everything that nature loaned you,
would there be anything left of you? You can feel that the universe gave you birth and made you,
so nature is your first parent. Do you feel good that you are a microcosm of the universe? All the
universal formulas can be found in you. You could accurately say that you are a small walking
universe that can move, whereas the cosmic universe is stationary. Because you can move and
act, you can govern the universe. The universe would want you to exercise dominion over it, so
your first duty would be to love nature. Then, wherever you are, you can love the creation and
appreciate it.
8. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 9-30-79
Aitareya Upanishad 1.1-3.12: Vv. 1.1-4, 2.1-4, 3.11-12. The Purusha formed at the beginning of creation
is the macrocosmic Person; his parts are then invested in man, the microcosm. Likewise, Hindu temples
are built on the pattern of the human body: see Vacana 820, p. 211. For other accounts of creation out
of the macrocosmic Person, cf. Rig Veda 10.90.6-16, pp. 868f. Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.7-9, p. 132;
Okanagan Creation, p. 298. Sun Myung Moon, 9-30-79: Cf. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah
27, p. 311.
World Scripture
Although we humans are part of the natural world, we have a unique position in it that makes us
superior to all other beings. This is not a matter of physical size or strength, for on that scale of things
we are only infinitesimal specks on a planet that is itself but a speck in the infinite reaches of the
universe. Rather, the reason humans are regarded as the crown of creation is due entirely to our unique
spiritual endowment. Humans have the ability, unparalleled in the natural world, to know God and to
attain the transcendent purpose. In the special intimacy which we share with God, humans are
potentially of more value than the entire world of creation. In this light, the bounty of creation has been
regarded as a gift of divine love.
In the Abrahamic religions, humans are said to have been created as God's "viceregents" and
granted the blessing of dominion over all things. All things exist for our benefit, by which we
can develop ourselves to become co-creators with God. Furthermore, humans are uniquely able
to have dominion because we can understand the nature of all other creatures--symbolized by our
giving them names. The blessing of dominion was not originally sanction for developing
technology to extract wealth and a comfortable artificial environment at the expense of nature; in
the agricultural societies for which this mandate was first given, human creativity was seen as
essentially in harmony with natural processes. Today it may be interpreted as a call for artistic
and creative projects to enhance the beauty and productivity of nature and the quality of human
Do you not see that God has subjected to your use all things in the heavens and on earth, and has
made His bounties flow to you in exceeding measure, both seen and unseen?
1. Islam. Qur'an 31.20
I will create a vicegerent on earth.
2. Islam. Qur'an 2.30
And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and
subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every
living thing that moves upon the earth."
3. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Genesis 1.28
When I look at Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers,
the moon and the stars which Thou hast established;
What is man that Thou art mindful of him,
and the son of man that Thou dost care for him?
Yet Thou hast made him little less than God,
and dost crown him with glory and honor.
Thou hast given him dominion over the works of Thy hands;
Thou hast put all things under his feet.
4. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 8.3-6
God is He who created the heavens and the earth, and sends down rain from the skies, and with it
brings forth fruits to feed you; it is He who made the ships subject to you, that they may sail
through the sea by His command; and the rivers He has made subject to you. And He made
subject to you the sun and the moon, both diligently pursuing their courses; and the night and the
day He has made subject to you. And He gives you of all that you ask for. But if you count the
favors of God, never will you be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to injustice and
5. Islam. Qur'an 14.32-34
The whole world was created only for the sake of the righteous man. He weighs as much as the
whole world. The whole world was created only to be united to him.
6. Judaism. Talmud, Shabbat 30b
Truly do I exist in all beings, but I am most manifest in man. The human heart is My favorite
dwelling place.
7. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2
Qur'an 2.30: See the complete passage, Qur'an 2.30-33, p. 313; see also Sun Myung Moon, 10-13-70, p.
313. Genesis 1.28: Cf. Shabbat 33b, p. 1014.
We did indeed offer the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains; but they refused to
undertake it, being afraid of it. But man undertook it; he was indeed unjust and foolish.
8. Islam. Qur'an 33.72
His movement is of Heaven, his stillness of Earth. With his single mind in repose, he is king of
the world; the spirits do not afflict him; his soul knows no weariness. His single mind reposed,
the ten thousand things submit--which is to say that his emptiness and stillness reach throughout
Heaven and Earth and penetrate the ten thousand things. This is what is called Heavenly joy.
Heavenly joy is the mind of the sage by which he shepherds the world.
9. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 13
Man, as the manifestation of God, is the leader of all things, and no creature is more honorable
than man. All things upon the earth, following their own individual names, fashioning their true
way, will know that Thou hast brought them to sight for man's sake. All things whatsoever,
forgetting not their source, deviating not from their determined pattern, are made to work as well
as to understand their part; humbling themselves and honoring man, without anger, without
haste, without anxiety, without grief, neither linked nor parted, they are made to work out their
true personality.
10. Perfect Liberty Kyodan. The Ritual Prayer
Having created the world and all that lives and moves therein, He, through the direct operation of
His unconstrained and sovereign Will, chose to confer upon man the unique distinction and
capacity to know Him and to love Him--a capacity that must needs be regarded as the generating
impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation.... Upon the inmost reality of
each and every created thing He has shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient
of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He has focused the
radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all
created things man has been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty.
11. Baha'i Faith. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 27
Qur'an 33.72: The 'Trust' means the responsibility to choose good and reject evil, to live by God's
purposes. Among all created beings, only humans have free will and the responsibility it confers. Yet we
have abused it. Cf. Shabbat 886-89a, p. 313. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 27: Cf. Aitareya
Upanishad 1.1-3.12, pp. 306f.; Sun Myung Moon, 9-30-79, p. 307; 10-13-70, p. 313.
Rangi and Papa, or Heaven and Earth, were the source from which, in the beginning, all things
originated. Darkness then rested upon the heaven and upon the earth, and they still both cleave
together, and the children they had begotten were ever thinking amongst themselves what might
be the difference between darkness and light. Hence the ancient saying, "There was darkness
from the first division of time, unto the tenth, to the hundredth, to the thousandth."
At last the beings who had been begotten by Heaven and Earth, worn out by the continued
darkness, consulted amongst themselves, saying, "Let us now determine what we should do with
Rangi and Papa, whether it would be better to slay them or to rend them apart." Then spoke
Tumatauenga, the fiercest of the children of Heaven and Earth, "Let us slay them." But Tanemahuta, the father of forests and all things that inhabit them, said, "Nay, not so. It is better to
rend them apart, and to let heaven stand far above us, and the earth lie beneath our feet. Let the
sky become a stranger to us, but the earth remain close to us as a nursing mother." Five of the
brothers consented to this proposal, but not Tawhiri-ma-tea, the father of winds and storms. He,
fearing that his kingdom was about to be overthrown, grieved greatly at the thought of his
parents being torn apart.
Then Rongo-ma-tane, the god and father of cultivated food, rises up to rend apart the heavens
and the earth; he struggles, but is unable to rend them apart. Next Tangaroa, the god and father of
fish and reptiles rises up; he struggles, but he is unable to rend them apart. Next Haumia-tikitiki,
the god and father of the food which springs up without cultivation, rises up and struggles, but
he, too fails. At last, slowly rises Tane-mahuta, the god and father of forests, birds, and insects,
and he struggles with his parents. With his head firmly planted on mother earth and his feet
upraised and resting against the skies, he strains his back and limbs with mighty effort and rends
apart Rangi and Papa, all the while insensible to their shrieks and cries. Thus it is said, "It was
the fierce thrusting of Tane which tore the heaven from the earth, so that they were rent apart,
and darkness was made manifest, and so was the light."
Then there arose in the breast of Tawhiri-ma-tea, the god and father of winds and storms, a fierce
desire to wage war with his brothers, because they had rent apart their common parents without
his consent. So he rises, follows his father to the realms above, and hurries to the sheltered
hollows in the boundless skies; there he consults long with his father, and as the vast Heaven
listens to the suggestions of Tawhiri-ma-tea, thoughts and plans are formed in his breast, and
Tawhiri-ma-tea also understands what he should do. Then by himself and vast Heaven were
begotten his numerous brood: the mighty winds, squalls, whirlwinds, dense clouds, massy
clouds, gloomy thick clouds, fiery clouds, clouds reflecting glowing red light, and the wildly
bursting clouds of thunderstorms. In the midst of these, Tawhiri-ma-tea sweeps wildly on. Alas!
alas! then rages the fierce hurricane; and while Tane-mahuta and his gigantic forests stand
unconscious and unsuspecting, the blast of the breath of the mouth of Tawhiri-ma-tea smites
them, the gigantic trees are snapt off right in the middle. Alas! they are rent to atoms, dashed to
the earth, with boughs and branches torn and scattered, lying on the earth, left for the insect, for
the grub, and for loathsome rottenness.
Tawhiri-ma-tea next swoops down upon the seas, and lashes in his wrath the ocean. Ah! ah!
waves steep as cliffs rise, with tops so lofty as to make one giddy; these soon eddy into
whirlpools, and Tangaroa, the god of the ocean and father of all that dwell therein, flies
affrighted through the seas....
Tawhiri-ma-tea next rushed on to attack his brothers Rongo-ma-tane and Haumia-tikitiki, the
gods and progenitors of cultivated and uncultivated food, but Papa, to save these for her other
children, caught them up and hid them in a place of safety; and so well were they concealed by
their mother Earth that he sought for them in vain.
Tawhiri-ma-tea, having thus vanquished all his other brothers, next rushed against Tumatauenga,
to try his strength against his; he exerted all his force against him, but he could neither shake him
nor prevail against him. What did Tumatauenga care for his brother's wrath? He was the only one
of the whole party of brothers who had proposed to kill their parents. Now, against the storm
winds, he shows himself brave and fierce in war. His other brothers had been broken or fled or
had been hidden, but Tumatauenga, or man, still stood erect and unshaken upon the breast of his
mother Earth.
Tumatauenga reflected upon the cowardly manner in which his brothers had acted, in leaving
him to show his courage alone, and he determined to turn against them. To injure Tane-mahuta,
he collected leaves and made snares--ha! ha! the children of Tane fell before him, none could
any longer fly in safety. To take revenge on his brother Tangaroa, he sought for his offspring
leaping and swimming in the water. He netted nets with flax, dragged with them, and hauled the
children of Tangaroa ashore. To be revenged upon his brothers Rongo-ma-tane and Haumiatikitiki, he soon found them by their distinctive leaves, and scraping into shape a wooden hoe and
plaiting a basket, he dug in the earth and pulled up all kinds of plants with edible roots.
Thus Tumatauenga deposed four of his brothers, and they became his food. But one of them,
Tawhiri-ma-tea, he could not vanquish by eating him for food, so this last-born child of Heaven
and Earth was left as an enemy for man, and still this brother ever attacks him in storms and
hurricanes, to destroy him alike on sea and land.
12. Maori Religion. On the Origin of the Human Race (New Zealand)
Maori Tradition: On the primordial androgyne, cf. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.3, p. 252. On
separating light from darkness as the first act of creation, compare Genesis 1, p. 126. This story is also
interpreted to show the origin of evil: from the parricide of the primordial family has come division and
strife between man and man.
World Scripture
The natural world also includes the spiritual realm. Often enough, benevolent spiritual beings,
angels, and devas are the objects of worship and supplication; see Spiritual Benefactors, pp. 36675. Yet with deeper religious insight, it has been revealed that the human being is, in reality, lord
of spirits. Human beings who have received salvation, who are enlightened, or who have
achieved the highest goal of life, easily outshine the angels in glory and surpass them in wisdom.
Saints and sages, and even ordinary believers who have strong faith, can command the heavenly
hosts to assist them in a righteous cause. They can also rebuke and cast out evil spirits in the
name of God.
Furthermore, according to the doctrine of reincarnation, even unreconstructed human beings
have more opportunity for spiritual advancement than do angels. Only when incarnated as human
beings may souls have an opportunity progress to the point of their final liberation.
Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life!
1. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 6.3
When a man walks on the highway, a company of angels goes before him, proclaiming, "Make
way for the Image of the Holy One!"
2. Judaism. Midrash, Psalm 17.8
For a person in concord with Unity, everything prospers; to one who has no personal interest,
even the spirits are in obeisance.
3. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 12
1 Corinthians 6.3: This refers not to humans generally, but only to saved Christians. Cf. Hebrews 1.14, p.
368; Qur'an 14.22, p. 443. Chuang Tzu 12: Cf. Chuang Tzu 13, p. 311.
The wise ones who are intent on meditation, who delight in the peace of renunciation, such
mindful, perfect Buddhas even the gods hold most dear.
4. Buddhism. Dhammapada 181
Behold, your Lord said to the angels, "I will create a vicegerent on earth." They said, "Wilt Thou
place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?--while we do celebrate Thy
praises and glorify Thy holy name?" He said, "I know what you know not."
And He taught Adam the names of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said,
"Tell Me the nature of these, if you are right."
They said, "Glory to Thee! of knowledge we have none, save what Thou hast taught us: in truth
it is Thou who art perfect in knowledge and wisdom."
He said, "O Adam, tell them their natures." When he had told them, God said, "Did I not tell you
that I know the secrets of heaven and earth, and I know what you reveal, and what you conceal."
5. Islam. Qur'an 2.30-33
God created all things with forms, but the invisible God does not have any form.... However,
without form, God could not have dominion over the world of form. Therefore, in the created
world of material things, God created man, who [was to be given divine] personality and spirit,
to be the master. God must have dominion not only over all earthly things, but also over the
infinite spiritual world. Archangels and all other spiritual beings are invisible substantial beings
[having form]. A certain central form is also necessary in order to have dominion over the
invisible substantial world. Then where was that form available? It was only through Adam that
God could have such a form. Accordingly, through Adam's form, God planned to have dominion
over both the spiritual world and the physical world, with Adam as the center. That was the
purpose of creation. God had to have a substantial relationship with the substantial being, Adam,
in order to have dominion over all things.
6. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 10-13-70
When Moses ascended on high, the ministering angels spoke before the Holy One, blessed be
He, "Sovereign of the Universe! What business has one born of woman among us?" "He has
come to receive the Torah," He answered them. They replied, "That secret treasure, which has
been hidden by You for nine hundred and seventy-four generations before the world was created,
You desire to give to flesh and blood! 'What is man, that Thou art mindful of him, And the son
of man, that thou visitest him? O Lord our God, How excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who
hast set thy glory [the Torah] upon the heavens!'" (Psalm 8.5, 2).
"Reply to them," said the Holy One to Moses....
Moses then spoke before Him, "Sovereign of the Universe! The Torah which You give me, what
is written in it?" "I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the Land of Egypt" (Exodus
20.2). He said to the angels, "Did you go down to Egypt; were you enslaved to Pharaoh; why
then should the Torah be yours? Again, what is written in it? 'You shall have no other gods'
(Exodus 20.3); do you dwell among peoples that engage in idol worship? Again, what is written
in it? 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy' (Exodus 20.8); do you perform work, that you
need to rest?... Again, what is written in it? 'You shall not murder. You shall not commit
adultery. You shall not steal' (Exodus 20.13-15); is there any jealousy among you; is the evil
Tempter among you?" Straightaway the angels conceded to the Holy One, blessed be He, for it is
said, "O Lord our Lord, How excellent is Thy name in all the earth," whereas "Who hast set Thy
glory upon the heavens" is not written (Psalm 8.10).
7. Judaism. Talmud, Shabbat 88b-89a
Dhammapada 181: Cf. Anguttara Nikaya i.279, p. 355; Digha Nikaya xi.67-83, pp. 378f. For a Jain
expression of this idea, see Upadesamala 448-49, p. 551. Qur'an 2.30-33: Cf. Qur'an 17.61-64, p. 440;
Genesis 2.15-3.24, pp. 424ff.; Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10, p. 405. Sun Myung Moon, 10-13-70: Cf.
Sun Myung Moon, 9-30-79, p. 307. This original blessing of dominion, and God's purpose in creating men
to dwell on earth, was spoiled by the Fall. Fallen mankind has come under the false dominion of the
archangel Satan. And God does not dwell in the personality of fallen man. Cf. 10-20-73, p. 467; Divine
Principle I., p. 253. Shabbat 88b-89a: This argument between God and the angels, with Moses
acting as God's spokesman, is a midrash on Psalm 8 (p. 310), which proclaims the dominion of
humankind. The angels quote verse 2 of the psalm to argue that God's glory belongs in the heavens, but
after Moses' arguments, they concede that the psalm concludes in verse 10 with God's name found only
in the earth. The point seems to be responsibility, which humans alone possess. Cf. Qur'an 33.72, p. 311.
Thus I have heard, on a certain occasion the Exalted One was staying near Uruvela, on the bank
of the river Neranjara, at the root of the mucalinda tree, having just won the highest wisdom.
Now on that occasion the Exalted One was seated for seven days in one posture and experienced
the bliss of release. Then arose a great storm of rain out of due season, and for seven days there
was rainy weather, cold winds, and overcast skies. So Mucalinda, King of the snakes, coming
forth from his haunt, encircled the body of the Exalted One seven times with his coils and stood
rearing his great hood above the Exalted One's head, thinking, "Let not heat or cold or the touch
of flies, mosquitoes, wind, or creeping things annoy the Exalted One."
Now after the lapse of those seven days the Exalted One roused himself from that concentration
of mind. Then Mucalinda, King of the snakes, seeing that the sky was clear and free of clouds,
unwrapped his folds from the Exalted One's body, and, withdrawing his own form and creating
the form of a youth, stood before the Exalted One, holding up his clasped hands and doing
reverence to him.
8. Buddhism. Udana 10, Mucalinda
Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power
of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are
subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
9. Christianity. Bible, Luke 10.19-20
The Kesin (long-haired sage) bears fire, he bears water,
the Kesin upholds earth and heaven,
the Kesin sees all visions of luster,
the Kesin is called the Light.
Munis with the wind for their girdle
wear the soiled yellow robe;
they go along the course of the wind
where the gods have gone before.
"In the ecstasy of Munihood
we have ascended on the wind,
and only these bodies of ours
are what you mortals ever see."
The Muni flies through mid-air
while he looks at varied forms,
and he is of every deva
a comrade in doing good.
10. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.136.1-4
Udana 10: Mucalinda is not a demon, but a heavenly serpent who represents good spiritual forces. His
homage to the Buddha expresses the Buddha's lordship over the angelic world. The scene is well-known
in Buddhist iconography. Compare Srimad Bhagavatam 10.16, pp. 626f. Luke 10.19-20: Cf. Psalm 91.1113, pp. 561f.
Blessed is human birth; even the dwellers in heaven desire this birth: for true wisdom and pure
love may be attained only by man.
11. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.13
The universe is peopled by manifold creatures who are, in this round of rebirth, born in different
families and castes for having done various actions.
Sometimes they go to the world of the gods, sometimes to the hells, sometimes they become
demons in accordance with their actions. Sometimes they become soldiers, or outcastes and
untouchables, or worms or moths....
Thus, living beings of sinful actions, who are born again and again in ever-recurring births, are
not disgusted with the round of rebirth, but they are like warriors, never tired of the battle of life.
Bewildered through the influence of their actions, distressed and suffering pains, they undergo
misery in non-human births.
But by the cessation of karma, perchance, living beings will reach in due time a pure state and be
born as men.
12. Jainism. Uttaradhyayana Sutra 3.1-7
World Scripture
The natural world is not an object of our manipulation. It is a community of living, sentient beings that
suffers or rejoices according to how it is treated by human beings. The scriptures teach that, for those
who have eyes to see, nature is exquisitely sensitive to the spirit and attitude of people. The creation
'groans in travail' when it is misused and defiled, and rejoices when it can serve God through serving the
children of God. Indeed, the virtuous person brings redemption to nature.
Confucius said, "It is Goodness that gives to a neighborhood its beauty."
1. Confucianism. Analects 4.1
Whether in village or in forest, in vale or on hill, wherever arahants dwell--delightful, indeed, is
that spot.
2. Buddhism. Dhammapada 98
The perfume of flowers blows not against the wind, nor does the fragrance of sandalwood, tagara
and jasmine, but the fragrance of the virtuous blows against the wind; the virtuous man pervades
every direction.
3. Buddhism. Dhammapada 54
The earth's condition is receptive devotion.
Thus the superior man who has breadth of character
Carries the outer world.
4. Confucianism. I Ching 2: The Receptive
May no living creatures, not even insects,
Be bound unto samsaric life; nay, not one of them;
But may I be empowered to save them all.
5. Buddhism. Milarepa
Dhammapada 98: Cf. Titus 1.15, p. 725. I Ching 2: Cf. Chuang Tzu 12, p. 312.
Good sons and daughters who accept the true Law, build the great earth, and carry the four
responsibilities, become friends without being asked, for the sake of all living beings. In their
great compassion, they comfort and sympathize with living beings, becoming the Dharmamother of the world.
6. Buddhism. Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 4
Only those who are absolutely sincere can fully develop their nature. If they can fully develop
their nature, they can then fully develop the nature of others. If they can fully develop the nature
of others, they can then fully develop the nature of things. If they can fully develop the nature of
things, they can then assist in the transforming and nourishing process of Heaven and Earth. If
they can assist in the transforming and nourishing process of Heaven and Earth, they can thus
form with Heaven and Earth a trinity.
7. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 22
There is a holy man living on faraway Ku-she Mountain, with skin like ice or snow, and gentle
and shy like a young girl. He doesn't eat the five grains, but sucks the wind, drinks the dew,
climbs up on the clouds and mist, rides a flying dragon, and wanders beyond the four seas. By
concentrating his spirit, he can protect creatures from sickness and plague and make the harvest
plentiful... This man, with his virtue of his, is about to embrace the ten thousand things and roll
them into one.
8. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 1
Mencius went to see King Hui of Liang. The king was standing over a pond. "Are such things
enjoyed even by a good and wise man?" said he, looking round at his wild geese and deer.
"Only if a man is good and wise," answered Mencius, "is he able to enjoy them. Otherwise he
would not, even if he had them.
The Book of Songs says,
He surveyed and began the Sacred Terrace,
He surveyed it and measured it;
The people worked at it;
In less than no time they finished it.
He surveyed and began without haste;
The people came in ever-increasing numbers.
The king was in the Sacred Park.
The doe lay down;
The does were sleek;
The white birds glistened.
The king was at the Sacred Pond.
Oh! how full it was of leaping fish!
It was with the labor of the people that King Wen built his terrace and pond, yet so pleased and
delighted were they that they named his terrace the "Sacred Terrace" and his pond the "Sacred
Pond," and rejoiced at his possession of deer, fish, and turtles. It was by sharing their enjoyments
with the people that men of antiquity were able to enjoy themselves.
The T'ang shih says,
O Sun [the tyrant Chieh], when wilt thou perish?
We care not if we have to die with thee.
"When the people were prepared 'to die with' him, even if the tyrant had a terrace and pond, birds
and beasts, could he have enjoyed them all by himself?"
9. Confucianism. Mencius I.A.2
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation
was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of Him who subjected it in hope;
because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious
liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail
together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the
Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
10. Christianity. Bible, Romans 8.19-23
Since folk are ablaze with unlawful lusts, overwhelmed by depraved longings, depressed by
wrong doctrines, on such as these the sky rains down not steadily. It is hard to get a meal. The
crops are bad, afflicted with mildew and grown to mere stubs. Accordingly, many come to their
11. Buddhism. Anguttara Nikaya i.50
Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel;
for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or kindness,
there is no knowledge of God in the land;
There is swearing, lying, killing, stealing, and committing adultery;
they break all bounds and murder follows murder.
Therefore the land mourns,
and all who dwell in it languish,
and also the beasts of the field,
and the birds of the air,
and even the fish of the sea are taken away.
12. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Hosea 4.1-3
Anguttara Nikaya i.50: Cf. Golden Light Sutra 12, pp. 1090f.; Book of Songs, Ode 254, pp. 1089f; Chuang
Tzu 10, p. 799. Even the attitude of the spirits reflects the heart of people: cf. Vamana Purana 19.31-35,
p. 443. Hosea 4.1-3: Cf. Jeremiah 7.1-15, p. 1088; Exodus 20.1-17, p. 166.
Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying, "Woe, woe
is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children.
When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will
my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?"
And when Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying, "O Lord, wilt
Thou not have compassion upon the earth?"
13. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7.48-49
To you did the soul of the ox complain,
"For whom did you create me? Who made me?
Fury and violence oppress me, and cruelty and tyranny.
I have no shepherd other than you: then obtain good pastures for me."
Then the Creator of the ox asked Right, "Have you a judge for the ox,
That you may give him, with the pasture, the care for the raising of the cattle?
Whom did you appoint his master who shall put to flight Fury together with the wicked?"
As Righteousness, reply was made, "No companion is there for the ox
That is free from hatred. Men do not understand
How the great deal with the lowly.
Of all beings he is the strongest
To whose aid I come at his call....
"With hands outstreched we pray to the Lord,
We two, my soul and the soul of the mother-cow,
Urging the Wise One to command that no harm shall come to the honest man,
To the herdsman, in the midst of the wicked who surround him."
Then spoke the Wise Lord himself, he who understands the prayers in his soul:
"No master has been found, no judge according to Righteousness,
For the breeder and the herdsman has the Creator fashioned you.
The ordinance of sprinkling the water of the cattle, for the welfare of the ox,
And the milk for the welfare of men desiring food,
This has the Wise Lord, the Holy One,
Fashioned by his decree, in accord with Righteousness."
--"Whom hast thou, as Good Mind, who may take care of us two for men?"
"I know but this one, Zarathustra Spitama, the only one who has heard our teaching;
He will make known our purpose, O Wise One, and that of Righteousness.
Sweetness of speech shall be given to him."
And then moaned the ox-soul: "That I should have to be content
With the powerless word of a man without strength for a guardian,
I who wish for a strong master!
Will he ever be, he who shall help him with his hands?"
14. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 29.1-9
Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7.48-49: Cf. Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7.27-37, p. 458.
In the days when natural instincts prevailed, men moved quietly and gazed steadily. At that time,
there were no roads over mountains, nor boats, nor bridges over water. All things were produced,
each for its own proper sphere. Birds and beasts multiplied; trees and shrubs grew up. The
former might be led by the hand; you could climb up and peep into a raven's nest. For then man
dwelt with the birds and beasts, and all creation was one. There were no distinctions of good and
bad men; being all equally without knowledge, their virtue could not go astray. Being all equally
without evil desires, they were in a state of natural integrity, the perfection of human existence.
15. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 9
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
and the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall feed;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all My holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
16. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 11.6-9
Yasna 49.1-9: In this dialogue in heaven, the soul of the ox complains that he is oppressed by the wicked.
He asks for justice from his creator, but the reply comes that there is no one. The soul of the ox and his
mate pray again to God, who replies that the ox has been put in the power of man. But He also decrees
laws of reciprocal service by which the oxen and mankind can live in harmony. The ox, not satisfied, asks
for a righteous protector who will practice these laws. He is told he must make do with Zarathustra, who
however lacks the power to actualize the teaching. When, the ox asks, will that teaching prevail, that he
may be saved? Zoroastrianism in fact abolished the ritual slaughter of oxen which was practiced among
the Vedic Aryans. Chuang Tzu 9: Cf. Tao Te Ching 80, p. 291; Ramayana, Yuddha Kanda 130, p. 291; Book
of Ritual 7.1.2, p. 293; Ghost Dance, p. 1117. Isaiah 11.6-9: Cf. Divine Principle I.1.3.1, p. 205.
World Scripture
CHAPTER 6: Life Beyond Death and the
Spiritual World
The Spiritual World: Mystery, Multiplicity, Analogy, Harmony
The Immortal Soul
Prepare Now For Eternity
Passage Beyond
Spiritual Benefactors
Spiritual Error And The Occult
No treatment of Ultimate Reality and the purposes of human life would be complete without a
discussion of death and the individual's destiny after death. All religions affirm that there is an
aspect of the human person that lives on after the physical life has ended. The immortality of the
spirit or soul or psychophysical individual (Buddhism does not admit an eternal metaphysical
Soul) is the subject of many passages of scripture. Its destiny after the death of the body is to go
to into another existence--perhaps in heaven or hell, or as another sentient being on the earth, or
in a resurrection body, or merged in eternal unity with the Absolute. Conceptions of the hereafter
vary considerably from one religion to another, but there are ample common points which we
can explore in making the comparisons in this chapter.
We open with selected passages which affirm the reality of the spiritual world, which
corresponds to this material universe and exists "alongside" it. In the next section are passages
about the immortal soul, the core of a person's individuality, which survives the death of the
physical body: it may ascend to Heaven, descend into hell, or transmigrate into another body.
Then, since human life is eternal, it is important to know how to prepare for life in the hereafter.
This is the topic of the third section, which gathers passages urging us to use our lives in this
world as preparation for life in the next world. In the fourth section we have texts dealing with
the actual passage, at the time of physical death, into the next existence. This is usually depicted
as fraught with some form of judgment or trial. The fifth section contains passages describing the
beauties of heaven and the terrors of hell, using imagery which is sometimes fantastic,
sometimes psychological.
The concluding sections contain texts on the assorted spiritual beings, angels, gods, and demons
which populate the spiritual world. With power to influence events on earth, these spirits may be
looked to for guidance and inspiration or propitiated by offerings. On the other hand, many
religions recognize that the spirits are often in error. They have deep suspicions of spiritualism
and spirit worship as liable to lead to idolatry and even demonic possession.
World Scripture
The general appearance of the spiritual world is the topic of this short section. Being invisible, it is not
something that is easily fathomed, nor are its traces easily observed. However, three definite notions
about the spiritual world are represented here: it is composed of a multiplicity of realms, it corresponds
by analogy to the phenomenal world, and it operates in mystic harmony.
They will ask you concerning the Spirit. Say, "The Spirit is by command of my Lord, and of
knowledge you have been vouchsafed but little."
1. Islam. Qur'an 17.85
No one in heaven or on the earth knows the Unseen save God; and they know not when they will
be raised. Does [human] knowledge extend to the Hereafter? No, for they are in doubt
concerning it. No, for they cannot see it.
2. Islam. Qur'an 27.65-66
Qur'an 17.85: Cf. Rig Veda 3.54.5, p. 74.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I
know even as also I am known.
3. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 13.12
I [Paul] know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven-whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was
caught up into Paradise--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows--and
he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.
4. Christianity. Bible, 2 Corinthians 12.2-4
In my Father's house are many rooms.
5. Christianity. Bible, John 14.2
Of the nether worlds and heavens has He created millions; Men exhaust themselves trying to
explore them.
6. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 22, M.1, p. 5
There are celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and
the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the
moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
7. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 15.40-41
The church of the Firstborn... are they into whose hands the Father has given all things--they are
they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fullness, and of his glory; and are
priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of the Only
Begotten Son. Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God.... These are they
whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of
all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.
And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold and lo, these are they who are of the
terrestrial, whose glory differs from that of the church of the Firstborn who have received the
fullness of the Father, even as that of the moon differs from the sun in the firmament. Behold,
these are they who died without law;... who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but
afterwards received it. These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by
the craftiness of men.
These are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fulness. These are they who receive of the
presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father. Wherefore, they are bodies terrestrial,
and not bodies celestial, and differ in glory as the moon differs from the sun. These are they who
are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom
of our God....
And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of
the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament. These are they who received
not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus. These are they who deny not the Holy
Spirit. These are they who are thrust down to hell. These are they who shall not be redeemed
from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have
finished his work.
These are they who receive not of his fullness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through
the ministration of the terrestrial; and the terrestrial through the ministration of the celestial. And
also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them,
or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation.
And thus we saw, in the heavenly vision, the glory of the telestial, which surpasses all
understanding; and no man knows it except him to whom God has revealed it. And thus we saw
the glory of the terrestrial which excels in all things the glory of the telestial, even in glory, and
in power, and in might, and in dominion. And thus we saw the glory of the celestial, which
excels in all things--where God, even the Father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever; before
whose throne all things bow in humble reverence, and give him glory forever and ever.
8. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Doctrine and Covenants 76.54-93
All kingdoms have a law given;
And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in which there is no kingdom; and there is
no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.
And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and
All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified.
For intelligence cleaves unto intelligence; wisdom receives wisdom; truth embraces truth; virtue
loves virtue; light cleaves unto light; mercy has compassion on mercy and claims her own;
justice continues its course and claims its own; judgment goes before the face of him who sits
upon the throne and governs and executes all things.
9. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Doctrine and Covenants 88.36-40
1 Corinthians 13.12: This passage points to the future, the last days, the eschaton. It may be interpreted
either as the time after death (personal eschatology), as we do here, or to the final consummation of
history: cf. 1 John 3.2, p. 1113. 2 Corinthians 12.2-4: Many interpreters think this man was Paul himself.
On these manifestations of spiritual forces, cf. Doctrine of the Mean 16, p. 74. Japuji 22, M.1: Cf.
Taitiriya Upanishad 2.7-9, pp. 180f. 1 Corinthians 15.40-41: Celestial bodies are those spirits who soar in
divine love and grace; terrestrial bodies are earth-bound spirits who remain attached to worldly desires,
but who may be lifted up through the ministrations of angels and higher beings. Doctrine and Covenants
76.54-93: This is a visionary interpretation of the preceding passage which describes three spiritual
realms. Latter-day Saints and their families who are members of the priesthood and who make active
witness to the gospel may become celestial spirits. Honorable and conscientious Christians may become
terrestrial spirits, and non-Christians, providing they do not blaspheme the Holy Spirit or commit gross
crimes, may become telestial spirits.
What is here [the phenomenal world], the same is there [in Brahman]; and what is there, the
same is here.
10. Hinduism. Katha Upanishad 2.1.10
The spiritual world is connected with the physical world. The common factor connecting all
things is true love.
11. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 12-18-85
Thou who exists beyond the wide firmament,
mighty in thine own splendor and strong of mind, hast made,
for our help, the earth a replica of thy glory,
and encompassed water and light up to the heavens.
12. Hinduism. Rig Veda 1.52.12
We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in
heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle which is set up not by man but by the
Lord.... There are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of
the heavenly sanctuary; for when Moses was about to erect the tabernacle, he was instructed by
God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern which was shown to you on
the mountain." But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is much more excellent.
13. Christianity. Bible, Hebrews 8.1-6
The system of Change is tantamount to Heaven and Earth, and therefore can always handle and
adjust the way of Heaven and Earth. Looking up, we observe the pattern of the heavens; looking
down, we examine the order of the earth. Thus we know the causes of what is hidden and what is
manifest. If we investigate the cycle of things, we shall understand the concepts of life and death.
Essence and material force are combined to become things. The wandering away of Spirit
becomes change. From this we know that the characteristics and conditions of spiritual beings
are similar to those of Heaven and Earth and therefore there is no disagreement between them.
The knowledge [of Spirit] embraces all things and its way helps all under heaven, and therefore
there is no mistake. It operates freely and does not go off course. It rejoices in Nature and
understands destiny. Therefore there is no worry. As [things] are contented in their stations and
earnest in practicing kindness, there can be love. It molds and encompasses all transformations of
Heaven and Earth without mistake, and it stoops to bring things into completion without missing
any. It penetrates to a knowledge of the course of day and night. Therefore Spirit has no spatial
restriction and Change has no physical form.
14. Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.4.1-4
Doctrine and Covenants 88.36-40: This teaches that people ascend to a 'kingdom' that suits their level of
intelligence, virtue, light, mercy, and justice. Sun Myung Moon, 12-18-85: Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 4-18-77,
p. 355. Katha Upanishad 2.1.10: Cf. Rig Veda 6.47.8, p. 77; Vachana 239, p. 355; Cree Round Dance Song,
p. 55; Pearl of Great Price, Moses 6.63, p. 77; Anguttara Nikaya i.279, p. 355; Dhammapada 15-18, p.
339; Chun Boo Kyung, p. 95. This passage also describes the mystical union of 'this' with Brahman--cf.
Katha Upanishad 2.1.10-11, p. 588. Hebrews 8.1-6: The sacrifice which Jesus the High Priest offers for
the forgiveness of sins in the heavenly tabernacle is said to be in every way superior to sacrifices at the
Jerusalem temple which were offered to atone for sins according to the Jewish Law--cf. Hebrews 9.1114, p. 521. This is based upon neo-Platonic philosophy, which regards the spiritual realm, the realm of
forms, as Reality, while the earthly realm is but its copy, shadow, and reflection. Hebrews quotes Exodus
25.40 as supporting this view: God instructed Moses to construct the tabernacle according to the
pattern of the heavenly tabernacle which he saw on Mount Sinai.
When King Solomon "penetrated into the depths of the nut garden" (Song of Solomon 6.11), he
took up a nut shell and studying it, he saw an analogy in its layers with the spirits which motivate
the sensual desires of humans....
God saw that it was necessary to put into the world so as to make sure of permanence all things
having, so to speak, a brain surrounded by numerous membranes. The whole world, upper and
lower, is organized on this principle, from the primary mystic center to the very outermost of all
the layers. All are coverings, the one to the other, brain within brain, spirit inside of spirit, shell
within shell.
The primal center is the innermost light, of a translucence, subtlety, and purity beyond
comprehension. That inner point extends to become a "palace" which acts as an enclosure for the
center, and is also of a radiance translucent beyond the power to know it. The "palace" vestment
for the incognizable inner point, while it is an unknowable radiance in itself, is nevertheless of a
lesser subtlety and translucency than the primal point. The palace extends into a vestment for
itself, the primal light. From then outward, there is extension upon extension, each constituting a
vesture to the one before, as a membrane to the brain. Though membrane first, each extension
becomes brain to the next extension.
Likewise does the process go on below; and after this design, man in the world combines brain
and membrane, spirit and body, all to the more perfect ordering of the world.
15. Judaism. Zohar
I Ching, Great Commentary 1.4.1-4: On the lawfulness common to heaven and earth as grounding their
resemblance one to the other, cf. Atharva Veda 4.1.3, Rig Veda 10.85.1, p. 150; Proverbs 8.22-31, p. 151;
Chuang Tzu 6, p. 152; Doctrine of the Mean 12, p. 153; etc. Zohar: The idea that the world is filled with a
hierarchy of Being, with the Supreme as its uttermost point, is also expressed in Katha Upanishad 2.3.78, p. 93, 3.13, p. 840; Kena Upanishad 1.1-2, p. 117; Qur'an 24.35, p. 116; and the Hadith, p. 87,
describing seventy thousand curtains of light which veil the Presence.
God created the seven heavens in harmony.
16. Islam. Qur'an 71.15
Music expresses the harmony of the universe, while rituals express the order of the universe.
Through harmony all things are influenced, and through order all things have a proper place.
Music rises to heaven, while rituals are patterned on the earth... Therefore the Sage creates music
to correlate with Heaven and creates rituals to correlate with the Earth. When rituals and music
are well established, we have the Heaven and Earth functioning in perfect order.
17. Confucianism. Book of Ritual 19
Qur'an 71.15: Cf. Gauri Sukhmani 23, M.5, p. 88; Anandu, M.3, p. 201. Book of Ritual 19: Cf. Anandu,
M.3, p. 201; Sun Myung Moon, 9-11-79, p. 176.
World Scripture
In this section are passages about the soul or spirit of the human individual, which may be
characterized variously as the divine Self in Hinduism, or as the product of conditions and causes
in Buddhism, or as the core of the individual person, partaking of his or her choices and deeds, in
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. From the perspective of ontology, we note that Buddhism does
not conceive of the soul as ultimately real; it parts company with the Hindu and Jain concept of
the soul as identical with the divine Self (Atman). Such a distinction might well be seconded by
the Abrahamic religions' understanding of God as fundamentally Other and distinct from his
creatures. But ontology is not at issue here; one may refer to passages under Formless,
Emptiness, Mystery, pp. 85-92, and Original Mind, pp. 217-23. In this chapter we are only
concerned with the soul as a phenomenological entity which carries the destiny of the individual
First of all, the soul, in any of these varied conceptions, is more essential to a person's identity
than his body, which is made from clay and is but a vestment, a possession, something one has
rather than what one is. Next, we examine notions of eternal life: how the soul survives the death
of the physical body. Although the manner of its survival varies among the religions--it may
remain close to earth, ascend to Heaven, descend into hell, participate in a general resurrection,
merge into the Godhead, or transmigrate into another body--the fact of its survival is a common
thread that unites them all. These texts include descriptions of a new 'spiritual body' which will
clothe the soul in the next life. Finally, we have several passages which liken the transition to the
next life to waking up from a dream.
The body is the sheath of the soul.
1. Judaism. Talmud, Sanhedrin 108a
The dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
2. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Ecclesiastes 12.7
Then the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the
breath of life; and man became a living being.
3. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Genesis 2.7
And He originated the creation of man out of clay,
then He fashioned his progeny of an extraction of mean water,
then He shaped him, and breathed His spirit in him.
4. Islam. Qur'an 32.8-9
The union of seed and power produces all things; the escape of the soul brings about change.
Through this we come to know the conditions of outgoing and returning spirits.
5. Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.4.2
Now my breath and spirit goes to the Immortal,
and this body ends in ashes;
OM. O Mind! remember. Remember the deeds.
Remember the actions.
6. Hinduism. Isha Upanishad 17, Yajur Veda 40.15
The outward form, brethren, of him who has won the truth stands before you, but that which
binds it to rebirth is cut in twain.
7. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya, Brahmajala Sutta
The soul is characterized by knowledge and vision, is formless, an agent, has the same extent as
its own body, is the enjoyer of the fruits of karmas, and exists in samsara. It is also enlightened
and has a characteristic upward motion.
8. Jainism. Nemichandra, Dravyasangraha 2
Matter has no life, hence it has no real existence. Mind is immortal.
9. Christian Science. Science and Health, 584
I Ching, Great Commentary 1.4.2: Birth and death form one recurring cycle, like the alternation of the
seasons. Spirit comes from the invisible realms to the visible, then returns to the invisible realms again.
Isha Upanishad 17: Also found in Yajur Veda 40.15. Brahmajala Sutta: With liberation, the existential
state of the soul may change without any alteration of a person's external bodily appearance.
Dravyasangraha 2: This speaks of the jiva, the individual soul. Science and Health, 584: Cf. the Buddhist
doctrine of 'Mind Only' in the Lankavatara Sutra 61-64, p. 155.
A man is his own immortal soul.
10. Scientology. L. Ron Hubbard, A New Slant on Life
Knowing that this body is like foam, and comprehending that it is as unsubstantial as a mirage,
one should destroy the flower-tipped shafts of sensual passions [Mara], and pass beyond the
sight of the King of death.
11. Buddhism. Dhammapada 46
Know that the present life is but a sport and a diversion, an adornment and a cause of boasting
among you, and a rivalry in wealth and children. It is as a rain whose vegetation pleases the
unbelievers; then it withers, and you see it turning yellow, then it becomes straw. And in the
Hereafter there is grievous punishment, and forgiveness from God and good pleasure; whereas
the present life is but the joy of delusion.
12. Islam. Qur'an 57.20
Behold this beautiful body, a mass of sores, a heaped up lump, diseased, much thought of, in
which nothing lasts, nothing persists. Thoroughly worn out is this body, a nest of diseases,
perishable. This putrid mass breaks up. Truly, life ends in death. Like gourds cast away in
autumn are these dove-hued bones. What pleasure is there in looking at them?
Of bones is this house made, plastered with flesh and blood. Herein are stored decay, death,
conceit, and hypocrisy.
Even ornamented royal chariots wear out. So too the body reaches old age. But the Dhamma of
the Good grows not old. Thus do the Good reveal it among the Good.
13. Buddhism. Dhammapada 147-151
Man's real nature is primarily spiritual life, which weaves its threads of mind to build a cocoon
of flesh, encloses its own soul in the cocoon,
And, for the first time, the spirit becomes flesh.
Understand this clearly: The cocoon is not the silkworm;
In the same way, the physical body is not man but merely man's cocoon.
Just as the silkworm will break out of its cocoon and fly free,
So, too, will man break out of his body-cocoon and ascend to the spiritual world when his time is
Never think that the death of the physical body is the death of man.
Since man is life, he will never know death.
14. Seicho-no-ie. Nectarean Shower of Holy Doctrines.
Dhammapada 46: Cf. Sutra of Hui Neng 10, p. 437. Qur'an 57.20: Cf. Qur'an 17.18-19, p. 336; 102, p.
340. Nectarean Shower of Holy Doctrines: As in popular Japanese Buddhism, the scripture of this new
religion contrasts the realm of appearances and sense impressions with the realm of Reality. The body
belongs to the realm of appearances, but the spiritual life belongs to the order of Reality.
Ts'ai-wu said, "I have heard the names kuei and shen, but I do not know what they mean." The
Master said, "The [intelligent] spirit is of the shen nature, and shows that in fullest measure; the
animal soul is of the kuei nature, and shows that in fullest measure. It is the union of kuei and
shen that forms the highest exhibition of doctrine.
"All the living must die, and dying, return to the ground; this is what is called kuei. The bones
and flesh molder below, and, hidden away, become the earth of the fields. But the spirit issues
forth, and is displayed on high in a condition of glorious brightness. The vapors and odors which
produce a feeling of sadness,[and arise from the decay of their substance], are the subtle essences
of all things, and also a manifestation of the shen nature."
15. Confucianism. Book of Ritual 21.2.1
Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this
slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things
that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a
house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our
heavenly dwelling, so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in
this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further
clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this
very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away
from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are of good courage, and we would rather
be away from the body and at home with the Lord. For we must all appear before the judgment
seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the
16. Christianity. Bible, 2 Corinthians 4.16-5.10
Look upon life as a swelling tumor, a protruding goiter, and upon death as the draining of a sore
or the bursting of a boil.
17. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 6
You prefer this life, although the life to come is better and more enduring. All this is written in
earlier scriptures; the scriptures of Abraham and Moses.
18. Islam. Qur'an 87.16-19
Onyame does not die, I will therefore not die.
19. African Traditional Religions. Akan Proverb (Ghana)
Akan Proverb: 'Onyame' is the most common Akan name for the Supreme Being. It means, roughly, 'the
One who gives fullness.'
Do not say, "They are dead!" about anyone who is killed for God's sake. Rather they are living,
even though you do not notice it.
20. Islam. Qur'an 2.154
Those who are dead are never gone:
they are there in the thickening shadow.
The dead are not under the earth:
they are there in the tree that rustles,
they are in the wood that groans,
they are in the water that runs,
they are in the water that sleeps,
they are in the hut, they are in the crowd,
the dead are not dead.
Those who are dead are never gone:
they are in the breast of the woman,
they are in the child who is wailing,
and in the firebrand that flames.
The dead are not under the earth:
they are in the fire that is dying,
they are in the grasses that weep,
they are in the whimpering rocks,
they are in the forest, they are in the house,
the dead are not dead.
21. African Traditional Religions. Birago Diop, Poem (Mali)
Who is whose mother? who the father?
All relationships are nominal, false.
Ignorant man! why do you babble as in a dream?
Know, by conjunction made by God, by His Ordinance,
you have come into the world.
All from one clay are made; in all one Light shines.
One breath pervades all, what point is any weeping over another?
Man wails over the loss of what he calls his:
Know, the Self is not perishable.
22. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri, M.5, p. 188
One man believes he is the slayer, another believes he is the slain. Both are ignorant; there is
neither slayer nor slain. You were never born; you will never die. You have never changed; you
can never change. Unborn, eternal, immutable, immemorial, you do not die when the body dies.
Realizing that which is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and unchanging, how can you slay or
cause another to be slain?
As a man abandons his worn-out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the body is worn out a
new one is acquired by the Self, who lives within.
The Self cannot be pierced with weapons or burned with fire; water cannot wet it, nor can the
wind dry it. The Self cannot be pierced or burned, made wet or dry. It is everlasting and infinite,
standing on the motionless foundation of eternity. The Self is unmanifested, beyond all thought,
beyond all change. Knowing this, you should not grieve.
23. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 2.19-25
Qur'an 2.154: This refers specifically to the martyrs, those killed in the struggle for God. Cf. Qur'an
3.169-74, p. 880; Hadith of Muslim, p. 878. Gauri, M.5: Cf. Acarangasutra 4.32, p. 956; Brihadaranyaka
Upanishad 2.4.4-5, p. 957.
One who identifies himself with his soul regards bodily transmigration of his soul at death
fearlessly, like changing one cloth for another.
24. Jainism. Pujyapada, Samadhishataka 77
Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
25. Christianity. Bible, Acts 26.8
Just as the womb takes in and gives forth again, so the grave takes in and will give forth again.
26. Judaism. Talmud, Berakot 15b
It is We who give life, and make to die, and to Us is the homecoming.
27. Islam. Qur'an 50.43
And among His signs is this: you see the earth barren and desolate, but when We send down rain
to it, it is stirred to life and yields increase. Truly, He Who gives life to the dead earth can surely
give life to men who are dead. For He has power over all things.
28. Islam. Qur'an 41.39
Some day the Great Chief Above will overturn the mountains and the rocks. Then the spirits that
once lived in the bones buried there will go back into them. At present those spirits live in the
tops of the mountains, watching their children on earth and waiting for the great change which is
to come. The voices of these spirits can be heard in the mountains at all times. Mourners who
wail for their dead hear spirit voices reply, and thus they know that their lost ones are always
29. Native American Religions. Yakima Tradition
Bhagavad Gita 2.19-25: The Self--which is all-pervasive Spirit--pre-exists its incarnation in the physical
body, and will continue to exist through eternity, clothed in body after body. A different notion of preexistence, whereby what pre-exists is the individual soul, is found in the Latter-day Saints; cf. Pearl of
Great Price, Abraham 3.22-4.1, pp. 368f. Acts 26.8: Cf. 1 Corinthians 15.52-57, p. 583. Berakot 15b: Cf.
Ezekiel 37.1-14, pp. 583f. Qur'an 41.39: Cf. Qur'an 3.27, p. 583; Ezekiel 37.1-14, pp. 583f. Yakima
Tradition: Cf. Ghost Dance, p. 1117; Ezekiel 37.1-14, pp. 583f.
The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child
while still in the womb of its mother. When the soul attains the Presence of God, it will assume
the form that best befits its immortality and is worthy of its celestial habitation. Such an
existence is a contingent and not an absolute existence, inasmuch as the former is preceded by a
cause, whilst the latter is independent thereof. Absolute existence is strictly confined to God,
exalted be His glory.
30. Baha'i Faith. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 81
Birth is not a beginning; death is not an end. There is existence without limitation; there is
continuity without a starting point. Existence without limitation is space. Continuity without a
starting point is time. There is birth, there is death, there is issuing forth, there is entering in. That
through which one passes in and out without seeing its form, that is the Portal of God.
31. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 23
Yama was the first to find us our abode,
a place that can never be taken away,
where our ancient Fathers have departed; all
who are born go there by that path, treading their own.
Meet the Fathers, meet Yama, and meet with the
fulfillment of wishes in the highest heaven;
casting off imperfections, find anew thy dwelling,
and be united with a lustrous body.
32. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.14.2,8
But some one will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?" You
foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the
body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a
body as He has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is alike, but there
is one kind for men, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are
celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory
of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and
another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So it is with the resurrection from the
dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is
raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown in a physical body, it is
raised in a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.
33. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 15.35-44
Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 81: Personal immortality is strictly distinguished from the
Absolute in itself, in contrast to the Hindu conception of the eternal Atman which is Brahman. Chuang
Tzu 23: Cf. Chuang Tzu 6, p. 584. Rig Veda 10.14.2, 8: On Yama, King of the dead, see p. 350.
It comes from the origin,
It returns to the original land
in the Plain of High Heaven-That spirit is one and the same,
not two.
The Way of death
Is found in one's own mind
And no other;
Inquire of it in your own heart,
In your own mind.
Leave to the kami
The path ahead;
The road of the returning soul
is not dark
To the land of Yomi,
To the world beyond.
In all things
Maintaining godly uprightness:
Such a one at last will see
All dark clouds cleared away.
All humanity born into
The land of sun-origin, this
Land of Japan,
Come from the kami,
And to the kami will return.
34. Shinto. Naokata Nakanishi, One Hundred Poems on The Way of Death
God takes the souls of men at death; and those that die not He takes during their sleep. Those on
whom He has passed the decree of death He keeps back, but the rest he returns to their bodies for
a term appointed. Verily in this are signs for those who reflect.
35. Islam. Qur'an 39.42
While one is in the state of dream, the golden, self-luminous being, the Self within, makes the
body to sleep, though he himself remains forever awake and watches by his own light the
impressions of deeds that have been left upon the mind. Thereafter, associating himself again
with the consciousness of the organs of sense, the Self causes the body to awake.
While one is in the state of dream, the golden, self-luminous being, the Self within, the Immortal
One, keeps alive the house of flesh with the help of the vital force, but at the same time walks out
of this house. The Eternal goes wherever He desires.
The self-luminous being assumes manifold forms, high and low, in the world of dreams. He
seems to be enjoying the pleasure of love, or to be laughing with friends, or to be looking at
terrifying spectacles.
Everyone is aware of the experiences; no one sees the Experiencer.
Some say that dreaming is but another form of waking, for what a man experiences while awake
he experiences again in his dreams. Be that as it may, the Self, in dreams, shines by Its own
As a man passes from dream to wakefulness, so does he pass at death from this life to the next.
36. Hinduism. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.3.11-14, 35
One Hundred Poems on The Way of Death: All people, not only the Emperor, are children of the kami,
find their roots within the kami, and are destined to become kami.
How do I know that the love of life is not a delusion? How do I know that he who is afraid of
death is not like a man who left his home as a youth and forgot to return? Lady Li was the
daughter of the border warden of Ai. When she was first taken captive and brought to the state of
Chin, she wept until the bosom of her robe was drenched with tears. But later, when she went to
live in the royal palace, shared with the king his luxurious couch and sumptuous food, she
regretted that she had wept. How do I know that the dead do not repent of their former craving
for life? Those who dream of a merry drinking party may the next morning wail and weep. Those
who dream of wailing and weeping may in the morning go off gaily to hunt. While they dream
they do not know that they are dreaming, In their dream, they may even try to interpret their
dream. Only when they have awakened do they begin to know that it was a dream. By and by
comes the great awakening, and then we shall know that it has all been a great dream.
Once upon a time, Chuang Tzu dreamed that he was a butterfly, a butterfly fluttering about,
enjoying itself. It did not know that it was Chuang Tzu. Suddenly he awoke with a start and he
was Chuang Tzu again. But he did not know whether he was Chuang Tzu who had dreamed that
he was a butterfly, or whether he was a butterfly dreaming that he was Chuang Tzu. Between
Chuang Tzu and the butterfly there must be some distinction. This is what is called the
transformation of things.
37. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 2
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.3.11-14, 35: The thought comparing the passing over to the next existence
at death to a sleeper waking from a dream continues in verses 4.3.34-4.4.4, pp. 342f. Cf. Bhagavad Gita
5.15-16, pp. 535f.
World Scripture
Generally, religions do not expound on the reality of a future life merely as a comfort to the
bereaved or as an opiate for those oppressed in this life. Rather, the fact of a future life enhances
the purpose and meaning of this life. How a person lives in the world will do much to determine
his or her ultimate destiny. Indeed, it is often taught that life in the world is the only chance to
prepare for life in eternity. The link between deed and retribution is not severed by death; often it
is only in the next life that what has been sown through actions while on earth is completely
reaped. Likewise, a person's qualities of character survive death: as a person was good or evil in
this life, so he will continue to enjoy goodness or be pained by evil in the next. Therefore, the
wise person lives with an eye to eternity by accumulating merit, repenting for misdeeds, and
seeking to clear up all accounts before the day of his death. Generally, the proper preparation for
the life in the hereafter is seen as extending throughout one's life, even from one's youth. For one
who prepares for death, death is not something to be feared. But to those who are heedless of this
principle death comes suddenly, leaving them eternally full of regret. See also Repentance, pp.
Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Amos 4.12
Every breath you take is a step towards death.
2. Islam (Shiite). Nahjul Balagha, Saying 72
Amos 4.12: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 8.5-7, p. 344.
This world is like a vestibule before the World to Come; prepare yourself in the vestibule that
you may enter the hall.
3. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 4.21
As the fallow leaf of the tree falls to the ground, when its days are gone, even so is the life of
men; Gautama, be careful all the while!
As the dew-drop dangling on the top of a blade of grass lasts but a short time, even so the life of
men; Gautama, be careful all the while!
A life so fleet, and existence so precarious, wipe off the sins you ever committed; Gautama, be
careful all the while!
A rare chance, in the long course of time, is human birth for a living being; hard are the
consequences of actions; Gautama, be careful all the while!
4. Jainism. Uttaradhyayana Sutra 10.1-4
And we see that death comes upon mankind... nevertheless there was a space granted unto man
in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to
meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after
the resurrection of the dead.
5. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Book of Mormon, Alma 12.24
Better is one hour of repentance and good works in this world than all the life in the world to
come, and better is one hour of calmness of spirit in the world to come than all the life of this
6. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 4.22
If any do wish for the transitory things of life, We readily grant them such things as We will, to
such persons as We will. But in the end We have provided hell for them; they will burn therein,
disgraced and rejected. But those who wish for the things of the hereafter, and strive for them
with all due striving, and have faith--they are the ones whose striving is acceptable to God.
7. Islam. Qur'an 17.18-19
To prepare for heaven, we should live our daily lives with sacrifice and service.
8. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 2-6-77
Tzu-lu asked how one should serve ghosts and spirits. The Master said, "Till you have learnt to
serve men, how can you serve ghosts?" Tzu-lu then ventured upon a question about the dead.
The Master said, "Till you know about the living, how are you to know about the dead?"
9. Confucianism. Analects 11.11
Book of Mormon, Alma 12.24: Cf. Alma 34.33-35, p. 907. Qur'an 17.18-19: Cf. Qur'an 39.53-58, p. 906.
When the Master was very ill, Tzu-lu asked leave to perform the Rite of Expiation. The Master
said, "Is there such a thing?" Tzu-lu answered saying, "There is. In one of the Dirges it says, 'We
performed rites of expiation for you, calling upon the sky-spirits above and the earth-spirits
below.'" The Master said, "My expiation began long ago!"
10. Confucianism. Analects 7.34
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves
break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust
consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your
heart be also.
11. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 6.19-21
Men who have not led a religious life and have not laid up treasure in their youth, perish like old
herons in a lake without fish.
Men who have not lived a religious life and have not laid up treasure in their youth lie like wornout bows, sighing after the past.
12. Buddhism. Dhammapada 155-56
Wealth and sons are the adornment of the present world; but the abiding things, the deeds of
righteousness, are better with God in reward, and better in hope.
13. Islam. Qur'an 18.46
<>O shrewd businessman, do only profitable business:
Deal only in that commodity which shall accompany you after death.
14. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sri Raga, M.1, p. 22
We are on a market trip to earth:
Whether we fill our baskets or not,
Once the time is up, we go home.
15. African Traditional Religions. Igbo Song (Nigeria)
[The soul] cannot be taken from its place of deposit; it does not perish anywhere by fire; if kings
of surpassing grandeur are angry they cannot take it away; and therefore what any man should
provide for his children as a legacy is learning. Other things are not real wealth.
16. Jainism. Naladiyar 134
Matthew 6.19-21: Cf. Luke 12.16-21, p. 939; also Matthew 25.14-30, p. 1015 and Uttaradhyayana Sutra
7.14-21, pp. 1015f: Parable of the Talents in Christian and Jain versions. Dhammapada 155-56: Cf.
Majjhima Nikaya ii.72-73, p. 940; also Khuddaka Patha 8. Sri Raga, M.1: See Uttaradhyayana Sutra 7.1421, pp. 1015f.
Relatives and friends and well-wishers rejoice at the arrival of a man who had been long absent
and has returned home safely from afar. Likewise, meritorious deeds will receive the good
person upon his arrival in the next world, as relatives welcome a dear one on his return.
17. Buddhism. Dhammapada 219-20
Giving no pain to any creature, a person should slowly accumulate spiritual merit for the sake of
acquiring a companion in the next world....
For in the next world neither father, nor mother, nor wife, nor sons, nor relations stay to be his
companions; spiritual merit alone remains with him.
18. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 4.238-39
Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob says, "He who carries out one good deed acquires one advocate in his
own behalf, and he who commits one transgression acquires one accuser against himself.
Repentance and good works are like a shield against calamity."
19. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 4.13
O people! Fear God, and whatever you do, do it anticipating death. Try to attain everlasting
blessing in return for transitory and perishable wealth, power and pleasures of this world.
Be prepared for a fast passage because here you are destined for a short stay. Always be ready
for death, for you are living under its shadow. Be wise like people who have heard the message
of God and have taken a warning from it.
Beware that this world is not made for you to live forever, you will have to change it for
hereafter. God, glory be to Him, has not created you without a purpose and has not left you
without duties, obligations, and responsibilities....
You must remember to gather from this life such harvest as will be of use and help to you
20. Islam (Shiite). Nahjul Balagha, Khutba 67
Now man is made of determination (kratu); according to what his determination is in this world
so will he be when he has departed this life.
21. Hinduism. Shankara, Vedanta Sutra 1.2.1
Laws of Manu 4.238-239: The thought continues in verses 4.241-243, p. 345. Cf. Srimad Bhagavatam 6.1,
p. 909. Abot 4.13: Cf. Tanhuma Numbers 19, p. 368; Tract of the Quiet Way, p. 1009. Nahjul Balagha,
Khutba 67: Cf. Qur'an 39.53-58, p. 906. Vedanta Sutra 1.2.1: Cf. Brihadaranyaka Upanishand 4.4.5-6, pp.
187f; 4.4.6-7, p. 927; Svetasvatara Upanishad 5.11-12, p. 696; Laws of Manu 12.3-9, p. 188; Bhagavad
Gita 4.31, p. 868.
Both life and death of such as are firm in their penance and rules are good. When alive they earn
merit and when dead they attain beatitude.
Both life and death of such as indulge in sins are bad. When alive they add to malice and when
dead they are hurled into darkness.
22. Jainism. Dharmadasaganin, Upadesamala 443-44
Here he grieves, hereafter he grieves. In both states the evil-doer grieves. He grieves, he is
afflicted, perceiving the impurity of his own deeds.
Here he rejoices, hereafter he rejoices. In both states the well-doer rejoices. He rejoices,
exceedingly rejoices, perceiving the purity of his own deeds.
Here he suffers, hereafter he suffers. In both states the evil-doer suffers. "Evil have I done"-thinking thus, he suffers. Having gone to a woeful state, he suffers even more.
Here he is happy, hereafter he is happy. In both states the well-doer is happy. "Good have I
done"--thinking thus, he is happy. Upon going to a blissful state, he rejoices even more.
23. Buddhism. Dhammapada 15-18
Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and
whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
24. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 18.18
As for that abode of the Hereafter, We assign it to those who seek not oppression in the earth,
nor corruption. The sequel is for those who ward off evil. Whoever brings a good deed, he will
have better than the same; while as for him who brings an ill deed, those who do ill deeds will be
requited only what they did.
25. Islam. Qur'an 28.83-84
Upadesamala 443-44: see following note. Dhammapada 15-18: Cf. Anguttara Nikaya i.279, p. 355;
Basavanna, Vacana 239, p. 355; Sun Myung Moon, 4-18-77, p. 355. Matthew 18.18: Jesus gives the
authority to bind and loose to his disciples, and hence to the church; compare Matthew 16.19, p. 286,
where that authority is given only to Peter. For Catholics, this passage refers mainly to the discipline and
grace dispensed by the church, which, when determined on earth, endures in heaven. But for
Protestants, who reject the mediation of a priesthood, the blessings of Christ are freely available to
every believer as he avails himself of them through the sacraments, prayer, and good deeds. Hence
ultimately it is the individual's own binding or loosing, while on earth, that will bind or liberate in
heaven. Qur'an 28.83-84: Cf. Majjhima Nikaya i.389-90, p. 345.
You can climb up the mountain and down again; you can stroll around the valley and return; but
you cannot go to God and return.
26. African Traditional Religions. Nupe Proverb (Nigeria)
Sooner, do I declare, would a one-eyed turtle, if he were to pop up to the surface of the sea only
once at the end of every hundred years, chance to push his neck though a yoke with one hole
than would a fool, who has once gone to the Downfall, be reborn as a man.
27. Buddhism. Samyutta Nikaya v.455
Death carries away the man who gathers flowers, whose mind is attached to sensuality, even as a
great flood sweeps away a slumbering village.
28. Buddhism. Dhammapada 47
Rivalry in worldly increase distracts you
Until you visit the graves.
Nay, but you will come to know!
Again, you will come to know!
Would that you knew now with certainty of mind!
For you will behold hell-fire;
Indeed, you will behold it with sure vision.
Then, on that day, you will be asked concerning pleasure.
29. Islam. Qur'an 102
The untrustworthy lord of death
Waits not for things to be done or undone;
Whether I am sick or healthy,
This fleeting life span is unstable.
Leaving all I must depart alone.
But through not having understood this
I committed various kinds of evil
For the sake of my friends and foes.
Yet my foes will become nothing.
My friends will become nothing.
I too will become nothing.
Likewise all will become nothing.
Just like a dream experience,
Whatever things I enjoy
Will become a memory.
Whatever has passed will not be seen again.
Even within this brief life
Many friends and foes have passed,
But whatever unbearable evil I committed for them
Remains ahead of me....
While I am lying in bed,
Although surrounded by my friends and relatives,
The feeling of life being severed
Will be experienced by me alone.
When seized by the messengers of death,
What benefit will friends and relatives afford?
My merit alone shall protect me then,
But upon that I have never relied.
30. Buddhism. Shantideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life 2.33-41
Samyutta Nikaya v.455: The Buddha cautions those who rely on the doctrine of reincarnation against
mistakenly thinking that they will soon get a second chance at this life.
World Scripture
The passage into the next life at the moment of death is a nearly impenetrable mystery for us who have
not yet experienced it. There are published accounts of near-death experiences by people who have
been resuscitated from clinical death; they report a passing into another world, meeting a being of light,
and feeling great warmth and accepting love. Perhaps they have experienced the first stages of the
passage. But the religions of the world are nearly unanimous in describing another, less comfortable
event: the individual undergoes a judgment where he must review his life with unsparing honesty. Yet
even at that crucial moment the dying person may, by focusing his mind on God and accepting the Light
that seems to embrace him, leap to a higher realm. Thus texts like the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the
Bhagavad Gita give counsel on the way to assure a safe passage. Jainism, above all, emphasizes the
importance of control in the transition from this life to the next by the ideal of Sallekhana, the holy
death, which is attained by the aspirant as he exerts himself in fasting and meditation.
The Self, having in dreams enjoyed the pleasures of sense, gone hither and thither, experienced
good and evil, hastens back to the state of waking from which he started.
As a man passes from dream to wakefulness, so does he pass from this life to the next.
When a man is about to die, the subtle body, mounted by the intelligent self, groans--as a heavily
laden cart groans under its burden.
When his body becomes thin through old age or disease, the dying man separates himself from
his limbs, even as a mango or a fig or a banyan fruit separates itself from its stalk, and by the
same way that he came he hastens to his new abode, and there assumes another body, in which to
begin a new life.
When his body grows weak and he becomes apparently unconscious, the dying man gathers his
senses about him and, completely withdrawing their powers, descends into his heart. No more
does he see form or color without.
He neither sees, nor smells, nor tastes. He does not speak, he does not hear. He does not think, he
does not know. For all the organs, detaching themselves from his physical body, unite with his
subtle body. Then the point of his heart, where the nerves join, is lighted by the light of the Self,
and by that light he departs either through the eye, or through the gate of the skull, or through
some other aperture of the body. When he thus departs, life departs; and when life departs, all the
functions of the vital principle depart. The Self remains conscious, and, conscious, the dying man
goes to his abode. The deeds of this life, and the impressions they leave behind, follow him.
As a caterpillar, having reached the end of a blade of grass, takes hold of another blade and
draws itself to it, so the Self, having left behind it [a body] unconscious, takes hold of another
body and draws himself to it.
As a goldsmith, taking an old gold ornament, molds it into another, newer and more beautiful, so
the Self, having given up the body and left it unconscious, takes on a new and better form, either
that of the Fathers, or that of the Celestial Singers, or that of the gods, or that of other beings,
heavenly or earthly.
1. Hinduism. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.3.34-4.4.4
Pre-recorded is the year and hour of nuptials:
Gather ye all to anoint the door-step.
Friend! utter blessing that with the Lord,
the departed be united.
In each home arrives this courier-packet,
Calls continually keep arriving.
Says Nanak, Contemplate Him who sends the call.
May the day of union for each arrive!
2. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Kirtan Sohila, M.1, p. 12
O nobly-born... the body which you have now is called the thought-body of propensities. Since
you do not have a material body of flesh and blood, whatever may come--sounds, lights, or rays-are, all three, unable to harm you; you are incapable of dying. It is quite sufficient for you to
know that these apparitions are your own thought-forms. Recognize this to be the Bardo (the
intermediate state after death).
3. Buddhism. Tibetan Book of the Dead
Brihadanyaka Upanishad 4.3.34-4.4.4: Cf. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.3.11-14, pp. 333f. These verses
deal with rebirth for those who have not attained the highest. The Upanishad (4.4.6-7, p. 352) describes
the passage of those who will pass beyond the realm of samsara to unity with Brahman. Kirtan Sohila,
M.1: The passage to death is welcomed with this Peal of Laudation, recited at the finale of the funeral
service as well as daily as an evening prayer. Union with Creator is likened to marriage. Through
absorption in praising God, the soul on departing the body will find union with God and escape the
wheel of transmigration.
Those who remember me at the time of death will come to me. Do not doubt this. Whatever
occupies the mind at the time of death determines the destiny of the dying; always they will tend
toward that state of being. Therefore, remember me at all times....
Remembering me at the time of death, close down the doors of the senses and place the mind in
the heart. Then, while absorbed in meditation, focus all energy upwards towards the head.
Repeating in this state the divine Name, the syllable OM that represents the changeless Brahman,
you will go forth from the body and attain the supreme goal.
4. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 8.5-7, 12-13
If this thought occurs to a monk, "I am sick and not able, at this time, to regularly mortify the
flesh," that monk should regularly reduce his food; regularly reducing his food and diminishing
his sins, he should take proper care of his body, being immovable like a beam; exerting himself
he dissolves his body....
This is the truth: speaking truth, free from passion, crossing the samsara, abating irresoluteness,
knowing all truth and not being known, leaving this frail body. Overcoming all sorts of pains and
troubles through trust in this, he accomplishes this fearful religious death. Even thus he will in
due time put an end to existence. This has been adopted by many who were free from delusion; it
is good, wholesome, proper, beatifying, meritorious. Thus I say.
5. Jainism. Acarangasutra 1.7.6
Bhagavad Gita 8.5-13: This teaches that one's prayer and attitude at the time of death is all-important
for the soul's subsequent journey. Regardless of the quality of one's life, just remembering God at the
time of death can lead to liberation. Yet since death may come suddenly, and may be accompanied by
much pain and distraction, the habit of remembering God should be nurtured throughout life. Some
Hindus name their children with divine names in order that, at the time of death, the natural human
desire to think of one's children will cause them to meditate on the divine name and thus win beatitude.
For instance, the story of Ajamil in Srimad Bhagavatam 6.1 describes a dishonest man who on his
deathbed lay thinking of his youngest son called Narayana (a name of Krishna), and hence inadvertently
he found liberation. In contrast to this view, see Qur'an 4.17-18, p. 907. Acarangasutra 1.7.6: Sallekhana
means to fast oneself to death while in the complete control of the passions through meditation and in
full mindfulness. Such a holy death leads to Nirvana or to rebirth in the celestial realms. Lay people and
monks alike may aspire to the holy death when the body has begun to deteriorate in old age or from a
terminal illness. Then, under proper supervision and according to established ritual, they make an end
that is at the same time a moment of purity, free of passion or delusion. Cf. Uttaradhyayana Sutra 4.7, p.
741; Gittin 57b, p. 886.
At the moment of death the sum of all the experiences of life on earth comes to the surface of the
mind--for in the mind are stored all impressions of past deeds--and the dying man then becomes
absorbed in these experiences. Then comes complete loss of memory. Next there arises before
man's mind the vision of his life to come, a vision regulated by his impressions of his past deeds;
and he no longer recollects his life on earth. This complete forgetfulness of his past identity is
His complete acceptance of another state and identification with a new body is said to be his
birth. He no longer remembers his past life, and, though he has existed before, he considers
himself newly born.
His next birth is regulated by the deeds of the present life--the deeds which make up his
character. If his character is dominated by light, he achieves a higher birth, that of a deva or of a
sage; if by passion, he is returned to earth as a demon or as a man; and if by darkness he is born
from the lower wombs.
6. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.15
Leaving the dead body on the ground like a log of wood or a clod of earth, the relatives depart
with averted faces; but spiritual merit follows the soul.
Let him therefore always slowly accumulate spiritual merit, in order that it may be his
companion after death; for without merit as his companion he will traverse a gloom difficult to
That companion speedily conducts the man who is devoted to duty and effaces his sins by
austerities, to the next world, radiant and clothed with an ethereal body.
7. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 4.241-43
He, having effected an activity of body that is harmful, effected an activity of speech that is
harmful, effected an activity of mind that is harmful, arises in a world that is harmful. Because he
has uprisen in a world that is harmful, harmful sensory impingements assail him. He, being
assailed by harmful sensory impingements, experiences a harmful feeling, without exception
painful, even as do creatures in Niraya Hell. In this way, there is the uprising of a being from
what he has come to be; he uprises according to what he does; when he has uprisen sensory
impingements assail him. So I speak thus: Creatures are heir to deeds.
8. Buddhism. Majjhima Nikaya i.389-90, Kukkuravatikasutta
And every man's augury have we fastened to his own neck, and We shall bring forth for him on
the Day of Resurrection a book which he will find wide open. "Read your book! Your soul
suffices as a reckoner against your this day."
9. Islam. Qur'an 17.13-14
Srimad Bhagavatam 11.15: 'Light' (sattva), 'passion' (rajas), and 'darkness' (tamas) are the three gunas,
qualities of embodied existence; see Bhagavad Gita 18.40, p. 383. This passage speaks of a new
embodied birth, and is not the way of the highest soul, who is no longer entangled in the fetters of the
gunas. Cf. Svetasvatara Upanishad 5.11-12, p. 696. Laws of Manu 4.241-243: Cf. Laws of Manu 4.238-39,
p. 338; Dhammapada 219-20, p. 338. Majjhima Nikaya i.389-90: Cf. Qur'an 28.83-84, p. 339; Majjhima
Nikaya iii.202-06, pp. 697f; Garland Sutra 10, p. 188. Qur'an 17.13-14: Cf. Qur'an 39.47-48, p. 190.
Towards the wicked man and the righteous one
And him in whom right and wrong meet
Shall the Judge act in upright manner,
According to the laws of the present existence.
10. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 33.1
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it; from His presence earth and sky fled
away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the
throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And
the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done.
11. Christianity. Bible, Revelation 20.11-12
After you depart this life, God shall demand a reckoning of your deeds
That in His ledger are recorded.
Those that are rebellious, shall be summoned.
Azrael, the angel of death, will hover over them,
And trapped in a blind alley they will know not any escape.
Saith Nanak, Falsehood must be destroyed;
Truth in the end shall prevail.
12. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Ramkali-ki-Var 13, M.1, p. 953
At the gates of the land of the dead
You will pass before a searching Judge.
His justice is true and he will examine your feet,
He will know how to find every stain,
Whether visible or hidden under the skin;
If you have fallen on the way he will know.
If the Judge finds no stains on your feet
Open your belly to joy, for you have overcome
And your belly is clean.
13. African Traditional Religion. Dahomey Song
They that are born are destined to die; and the dead to be brought to life again; and the living to
be judged, to know, to make known, and to be made conscious that He is God, He the Maker, He
the Creator, He the Discerner, He the Judge, He the Witness, He the Complainant; He it is that
will in future judge, blessed be He, with whom there is no unrighteousness, nor forgetfulness,
nor respect of persons, nor taking of bribes. Know also that everything is according to reckoning;
and let not your imagination give you hope that the grave will be a place of refuge for you. For
perforce you were formed, and perforce you were born, and perforce you live, and perforce you
will die, and perforce you will in the future have to give account and reckoning before the King
of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.
14. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 4.29
Yasna 33.1: Cf. Yasna 48.4, p. 409; Book of Mormon, Alma 41:3-4, p. 190. Revelation 20.11-12: Cf.
Matthew 25.31-45, p. 990; Abot 3.20, p. 187; Qur'an 99.6-8, p. 190. Abot 4.29: Cf. Abot 3.20, p. 187.
Behold, two guardian angels appointed to learn [man's doings] learn and note them, one sitting
on the right and one on the left. Not a word does he utter but there is a sentinel by him, ready to
note it. And the stupor of death will bring truth before his eyes, "This was the thing which you
were trying to escape!"
15. Islam. Qur'an 50.17-19
Anything evil refrain from doing; all good deeds do! So will you be released forever from the
influence of evil stars, and always be encompassed by good guardian angels.
16. Taoism. Tract of the Quiet Way
The Good Spirit, who was born simultaneously with you, will come now and count out your
good deeds with white pebbles, and the Evil Spirit, who was born simultaneously with you, will
come and count out your evil deeds with black pebbles. Thereupon you will be greatly
frightened, awed, and terrified, and will tremble; and you will attempt to tell lies, saying, "I have
not committed any evil deed."
Then the Lord of Death will say, "I will consult the Mirror of karma." He will look in the Mirror,
wherein every good and evil act is vividly reflected. Lying will be of no avail.
Then one of the executive furies of the Lord of Death will place a rope around your neck and
drag you along; he will cut off your head, extract your heart, pull out your intestines, lick up your
brain, drink your blood, eat your flesh, and gnaw your bones; but you will be incapable of dying.
Although your body be hacked to pieces, it will revive again. The repeated hacking [symbolizing
the pangs of the deceased's conscience] will cause intense pain and torture.
Even at the time that the pebbles are being counted out, be not frightened; tell no lies; and fear
not the Lord of Death.
Your body being a mental body is incapable of dying even though beheaded and quartered. In
reality, your body is of the nature of voidness; you need not be afraid. The Lords of Death are
your own hallucinations. Your desire-body is a body of propensities, and void. Voidness cannot
injure voidness; the qualityless cannot injure the qualityless. Apart from one's own
hallucinations, in reality there are no such things existing outside oneself as Lord of Death, or
god, or demon. Act so as to recognize this.
17. Buddhism. Tibetan Book of the Dead
The self is the maker and non-maker, and itself makes happiness and misery, is its own friend
and its own foe, decides its own condition good or evil, and is its own river Veyarana [the river
in which hell-beings are tormented].
18. Jainism. Madaghishloka
Qur'an 50.17-19: Cf. Qur'an 13.10-11, p. 190; 41.30-31, p. 368. Tract of the Quiet Way: Cf. Abot 4.13, p.
338. Tibetan Book of the Dead: Cf. Milarepa, p. 381. Madaghishloka: Cf. Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way
of Life 4.28-35, p. 392.
When we subject ourselves to the least discrimination or particularization, transformation takes
place; otherwise, all things remain as void as space, as they inherently are. By dwelling our mind
on evil things, hell arises. By dwelling our mind on good acts, paradise appears. Dragons and
snakes are the transformations of venomous hatred, while heavenly Bodhisattvas are mercy
personified. The upper regions are Wisdom crystallized, while the underworld is only another
form of ignorance and infatuation.
19. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 6
Naturally every Hopi wants to join the spirits of his loved ones who have passed beyond. To that
end he keeps his heart pure and is kind and generous to other people.
When a bad person, one who is known as "not-Hopi," dies, his fate is very different. Witches
called the "Two Hearts" take him by the hand as soon as the breath is out of his body, and they
lead him away to their own country. The country of the Two Hearts is as bad as they are
20. Native American Religions. Hopi tradition
The Trumpet will be sounded, and whoever is in heaven and whoever is on earth will be stunned,
except for someone God may wish. Then another [blast] will be blown and behold, they will
stand there watching! The earth will shine through its Lord's light and the Book will be laid
open. Prophets and witnesses will be brought in, and judgment will be pronounced among them
formally, and they will not be harmed. Every soul will be repaid for whatever it has done; He is
quite aware of what they are doing.
The ones who disbelieve will be driven along to hell in throngs until, just as they come up to it,
its gates will swing open and its keepers will say to them, "Did not messengers come to you from
among yourselves reciting your Lord's verses to you and warning you about meeting [Him] on
this day of yours?" They will say, "Of course!" But the Sentence about torment has still come
due for disbelievers. Someone else will say, "Enter hell's gates to remain there. What an awful
lodging will it be for the overbearing!"
The ones who have heeded their Lord will be driven along to the Garden in throngs until just as
they come up to it, its gates will swing open and its keepers will tell them, "Peace be upon you!
You have been good, so enter it to remain there." They will say, "Praise be to God who has held
true to His promise for us and let us inherit the earth! We shall settle down anywhere we wish to
in the Garden. How favored are such workers' wages!"
You will see the angels clustering around the Throne hymning their Lord's praise. Judgment will
be pronounced on them formally, and they will say, "Praise be to God, Lord of the universe!"
21. Islam. Qur'an 39.68-75
Qur'an 39.68-75: Cf. Qur'an 69.13-37, p. 1098.
Whoever, man or woman, O Wise Lord,
Shall give me what thou knowest is the best of this existence,
To wit--reward for righteousness and the dominion with the Good Mind-And all those whom I shall induce to worship such as you,
With all those will I cross the Bridge of the Separator!
The sacrificers and the sorcerer princes
Have subdued mankind to the yoke of their dominion,
To destroy existence through evil deeds:
They shall be tortured by their own soul and their own conscience,
When they come to the Bridge of the Separator,
Forever to be inmates of the House of Evil.
22. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 46.10-11
God will then set up a bridge over Gehenna and intercession will be allowed, and they will say,
"O God, keep safe, keep safe." The believers will then pass over like the twinkling of an eye, like
lightning, like wind, like a bird, like the finest horses and camels. Some will escape and be kept
safe, some will be lacerated [by flesh-hooks and thorns which will rise up from Gehenna] and let
go, and some will be pushed into the fire of Gehenna.
23. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim
Yasna 46.10-11: Zarathustra promises blessings for those who support him and help the teaching
achieve dominion in the world, and woe for the evil-doers who practice false religion. The 'Bridge of the
Separator,' where the righteous and the wicked will be sorted out, is an image also found in popular
Islam, as in the following tradition. Compare also the Hindu theme of crossing the waters: see Atharva
Veda 12.2.26-27, p. 543. Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim: This bridge is called Sirat.
World Scripture
Some conception of heaven and hell is found universally among the religions of the world. Descriptions
of these abodes are often full of graphic and fanciful imagery, conveying in metaphor a reality that can
hardly be part of the ordinary experience of mortals. Are these realms objectively real? The scriptures
are unanimous in affirming they are. Yet they do not have any physical location: "up" or "down" is a
matter of spiritual geography, not of astronomy or geology. The view found in some texts, that heaven
or hell is derived from one's state of mind,1 does not make it any less real. For the attitudes and desires
of people's hearts, which may be hidden by the external features of mortal life, are the equivalent of
material reality in the realms of spirit.
A number of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist passages speak of Yama, the Indic god of the dead.
Yama is not comparable to the devil or Satan who, in Christian belief, is the author of evil. In the
Vedas, he presides over the bright realms and is the object of offerings and supplications for the
benefit of the departed. As the lord of hell in Buddhism, his acts are strictly in accordance with
divine law, meting out punishments according to people's karma, and in one Taoist text reprinted
here he even gives an object lesson to turn people away from evil.
Some ambiguity plagues the descriptions of heaven and hell in the scriptures of Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam, which can be interpreted either to describe the state of the soul upon
death or what will be after the future Resurrection. The Qur'anic passages collected here which
describe the opening of Paradise and hell are a few of many which refer to the last judgment.
Most Muslims, therefore, regard the dead to be sleeping in the grave awaiting that momentous
event. Yet other passages, such as the hadith describing Muhammad's Night Journey,2 point to
the present reality of Heaven as the dwelling place for the souls of the righteous. The biblical
vision of Heaven from the Revelation and the passage from the same book about the lake of fire
are visions of a future recompense after the tribulations of the Last Judgment. Those Christians
who hold to a literal interpretation of these verses concur with their Muslim brothers and sisters
that the souls of the dead are asleep in the grave, awaiting the future opening of Heaven and hell.
But another strand of the Christian tradition, supported by biblical descriptions of the Sheol in
Job 3.17-19, the heavenly Jerusalem in Hebrews 12.22-24, and the story of Lazarus and the rich
man in Luke 16.19-31, teaches that upon death each person immediately enters his appointed
place in Heaven or hell. The visions in Revelation are often interpreted in this way, and have
spawned such classic descriptions as Dante's Divine Comedy. The concept of the World to Come
in Rabbinic Jewish writings is similarly ambiguous: the World to Come may be a present
Heaven or describe a future redemption on earth.3
1. E.g., Tibetan Book of the Dead, p. 343, Madaghishloka, p. 347, Sutra of Hui Neng 6, p. 348.
2. See Qur'an 2.154, p. 330, and 39.42, p. 333.
3. The resolution of these two doctrines comes at the eschatological time of redemption, when the
realization of the Kingdom of God on earth brings with it a transformation of heaven: 'a new heaven and
a new earth'--cf. Revelation 21.1-22.5, pp. 1118f; Isaiah 24.18-23, p. 1098; Qur'an 21.104-05, p. 1111;
69.13-17, pp. 1098f. The destruction of evil and the triumph of good, when God becomes all in all,
effects liberation for the earthly realms and the spiritual realms alike. See also passages which teach
that the words "life" and "death" often refer to a state of grace rather than physical life or death: Luke
9.60, p. 583; Qur'an 6.122, p. 583; Berakot 18ab, p. 583. In that light we can also understand
resurrection to mean the enlivening and salvation of those in the spiritual realms as well as on earth.
The world's scriptures describe Heaven as a place of rest, or as an exalted spiritual state, full of
divine splendor and communion with the Absolute. There are also descriptions using more
graphic and materialistic imagery: gardens of delights, with riches and pleasures abounding. A
number of texts describe it as a place of fellowship with the spirits of the departed or a
fellowship of saints. We conclude with visions or tours of Heaven: the Buddhist description of
the Pure Land, the vision of throngs surrounding the divine throne in the Book of Revelation, and
Muhammad's Night Journey.
There the wicked cease from troubling,
and there the weary are at rest.
There the prisoners are at ease together;
they hear not the voice of the taskmaster.
The small and the great are there,
and the slave is free from his master.
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Job 3.17-19
Chuang Tzu said, "Were I to prevail upon God to allow your body to be born again, and your
bones and flesh to be renewed, so that you could return to your parents, to your wife, and to the
friends of your youth, would you be willing?"
At this, the skull opened its eyes wide and knitted its brows and said, "How should I cast aside
happiness greater than that of a king, and mingle once again in the toils and troubles of
2. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 18
He in whom desire has been stilled suffers no rebirth. After death, having attained to the highest,
desiring only the Self, he goes to no other world. Realizing Brahman, he becomes Brahman.
Freed from the body, he becomes one with the immortal spirit, Brahman, the Light eternal.
3. Hinduism. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.6-7
When a son of the Buddha fulfils his course,
In the world to come he becomes Buddha.
4. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 2
To the highest regions, in due order, to those regions where there is no delusion, and to those
regions which are full of light where the glorious gods dwell--who have long life, great power,
great luster, can change their shape at will, are beautiful as on their first day, and have the
brilliance of many suns--to such places go those who are trained in self-control and penance,
both monks and householders who have obtained liberation by absence of passion.
5. Jainism. Uttaradhyayana Sutra 5.26-28
Not like this world is the World to Come. In the World to Come there is neither eating nor
drinking, nor procreation of children or business transactions, no envy or hatred or rivalry; but
the righteous sit enthroned, their crowns on their heads, and enjoy the luster of the Divine
Splendor (Shechinah).
6. Judaism. Talmud, Berakot 17a
In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
7. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 22.30
And those Foremost [in faith] will be Foremost [in the hereafter].
These will be those nearest to God;
In Gardens of Bliss;
A number of people from those of old,
and a few from those of later times.
They will be on thrones encrusted, reclining on them, facing each other.
Round about them will serve youths of perpetual freshness,
with goblets, shining beakers, and cups filled out of clear-flowing fountains;
No after-ache will they receive therefrom, nor will they suffer intoxication;
And with fruits, any that they may select,
And the flesh of fowls, any that they may desire.
And there will be companions with beautiful, big and lustrous eyes,
Like unto pearls well-guarded:
A reward for the deeds of their past life.
No frivolity will they hear therein, nor any taint of ill,
Only the saying "Peace! Peace!"
8. Islam. Qur'an 56.10-27
Lotus Sutra 2: The teaching of the Lotus Sutra at this point is paralleled in Hindu Vedanta, e.g., Mundaka
Upanishad 3.2.8-9, p. 586; Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7, p. 586, and related passages. To realize one's
Buddhahood is comparable to discerning Brahman--the Absolute and Ultimate. No longer immersed in
temporal phenomena, one becomes joined to eternal Reality. Berakot 17a: Cf. Hadith, p. 1113. Qur'an
56.10-27: Cf. Qur'an 9.72, p. 199; 69.20-24, pp. 1098f; 98.7-8, p. 581.
Higher than all stands the Realm of Grace-None can have access there except heroes of supreme might,
Inspired by God-consciousness.
In that sphere abide numberless heroines like Sita of surpassing praise
And beauty indescribable.
Those to God united suffer not mortality nor delusion.
In that sphere abide devotees assembled from the various universes,
Cherishing the holy Eternal ever in their hearts.
In everlasting bliss.
The formless Supreme Being abides in the Realm of Eternity.
Over His creation He casts His glance of grace.
In that realm are contained all the continents and universes,
Exceeding in number all count.
Of creation, worlds upon worlds abide therein-All obedient to His Will;
He watches over them in bliss,
And has each constantly in mind.
Saith Nanak, Such is that realm's [glory] that to try to describe it is to attempt the impossible.
9. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 37 M.1, p. 8
Make me immortal in the realm
where the son of Vivasvat [Yama] reigns,
where lies heaven's secret shrine, where
are those waters that are ever young.
For Indra, flow thou on, Indu!
Make me immortal in that realm
where movement is accordant to wish,
in the third region, the third heaven of heavens,
where the worlds are resplendent.
For Indra, flow thou on, Indu!
Make me immortal in that realm
where all wishes and longings go,
where spreads the Radiant One's region,
where holy bliss is, and happiness.
For Indra, flow thou on, Indu!
Make me immortal in that realm
where beatitude and joy and cheer
and transports of delight abound,
where the highest desires have been filled.
For Indra, flow thou on, Indu!
10. Hinduism. Rig Veda 9.113.8-11
Rig Veda 9.113.8-11: Cf. Rig Veda 10.14.2,8, p. 332.
What is heaven? Heaven is created by those people who love here on earth with unselfishness
and an absolute, God-centered love. This is the most basic principle, and all other principles you
learn are the expansion of this basic truth.
11. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 4-18-77
Behold! between the worlds
of mortals and of gods
There is no difference!
To speak the truth is the world of gods;
To speak untruth, the mortal world.
Good works is heaven,
Bad works is hell;
You are the witness, O Lord.
12. Hinduism. Basavanna, Vacana 239
Rabbi Joseph, son of Rabbi Joshua ben Levi, was ill and fell into a coma. When he recovered, his
father asked him, "What did you see?" He replied, "I beheld a world the reverse of this one; those
who are on top here were below there, and vice versa." He said to him, "My son, you have seen a
corrected world. But what is the position of us students of Torah there?" He answered, "We are
the same as here. I heard it stated, 'Happy is he who comes here possessed of learning;' and I
further heard it said that martyrs occupy an eminence which nobody else can attain."
13. Judaism. Talmud, Pesahim 50a
Once Hatthaka, son of a deva [one reborn in heaven after death], when night was waning, lit up
the whole of Jeta Grove with exceeding splendor and approached the Exalted One....
Then said the Exalted One, "Well, Hatthaka, do things go on now just the same as before, when
you were in human shape?"
"Yes, Lord, they do. But there are also some things now going on which I did not experience
when I was in human shape. Just as, Lord, the Exalted One now dwells surrounded by brethren
and sisters, by lay-brothers and lay-sisters, by royalties and ministers, by sectarians and their
followers--just so do I dwell surrounded by sons of devas. Even from a distance, Lord, do sons of
the devas come saying, 'We'll hear the Norm from the lips of Hatthaka, son of a deva.'
"Of three things, Lord, I never got enough. I died regretful of three things. What were they? I
never had enough of beholding the Exalted One. I died regretting it. I never had enough of
hearing the good Norm. I died regretting it. I never had enough of serving the Order of Brethren.
I died regretting it."
14. Buddhism. Anguttara Nikaya i.279
Sun Myung Moon, 4-18-77: Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 12-18-85, p. 323. 1 Corinthians 13, p. 237. Vacana
239: Cf. Katha Upanishad 2.1.10, p. 323. Pesahim 50a: Cf. 1 Samuel 2.4-9, pp. 545f; Hadith of Bukhari, p.
911. Anguttara Nikaya 1.279: Regret is a powerful emotion in the world beyond; it can create hell or
spur one to self-betterment.
Where men of goodwill and good deeds rejoice,
Their bodies now made free from all disease,
Their limbs made whole from lameness or defect-In that heaven may we behold our parents and our sons!
15. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 6.120.3
All who obey God and the Apostle are in the company of those on whom is the grace of God--of
the Prophets who teach, the sincere lovers of Truth, the witnesses [martyrs] who testify, and the
righteous who do good: Ah! what a beautiful fellowship!
16. Islam. Qur'an 4.69
You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to
innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in
heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to
Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.
17. Christianity. Bible, Hebrews 12.22-24
Komashtam'ho instructed the people in the nature of death, "When you die, you will be again
with those you love who have gone before you. Again you will be young and strong, though you
might have been old and feeble on the day you died. In the spirit land the corn will grow and all
will be happy, whether they were good or bad when they were alive. So death is not something to
be afraid of."
18. Native American Religions. Yuma Tradition
For [the ancestors] Soma is purified,
some accept the molten butter;
to the company of those, for
whom the honey flows, let him go!
To the company of those who
are invincible by spiritual discipline (tapas),
and through spiritual discipline have gone to heaven,
to men of great spiritual fire, let him go!
To the company of those who
fight contested battles, heroes
who cast away their lives, to those who
made a thousand gifts, let him go!
To those ancient followers
of the Law, steadfast in the Law,
who furthered the Law, to the Fathers, Yama,
great in their spiritual fire, let him go!
To the sage-poets, the leaders
of thousands, those who protect the sun,
to the Rishis of great spiritual discipline,
born of spiritual discipline, Yama! let him go!
19. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.154.1-5
Atharva Veda 6.120.3: Cf. Atharva Veda 12.2.26-27, p. 543. Qur'an 4.69: Cf. Gleanings 81, p. 371.
Hebrews 12.22-24: Cf. Revelation 21.1-2, pp. 1112f; Isaiah 51.11, p. 1117. Yuma Tradition: Cf. Zuni
Prayer, p. 246; Hopi Tradition, p. 348, Ghost Dance, p. 1117.
O Ananda, the world called Sukhavati (the Pure Land), which is the world system of the Lord
Amitabha, is rich and prosperous, comfortable, fertile, delightful, and crowded with many gods
and men. And in this world, Ananda, there are no hells, no animals, no ghosts, no devils, and no
inauspicious places of rebirth. And there do not appear in this world such gems as are known in
the world Sukhavati.
And that world Sukhavati, Ananda, is fragrant with many sweet-smelling odors, rich in manifold
flowers and fruits, adorned with jewel trees, and frequented by flocks of various birds with sweet
voices, which have been produced by the miraculous power of the Tathagata. The jewel trees
have various colors, many colors, many hundreds of thousands of colors. They are composed of
varying combinations of the seven precious things: gold, silver, beryl, crystal, coral, red pearls,
and emerald... Their roots, trunks, branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits are pleasant to touch, and
fragrant. And when these trees, are moved by the wind, a sweet and delightful sound proceeds
from them, which one never tires of hearing. Such jewel trees, and clusters of banana trees and
rows of palm trees, all made of precious gems, grow everywhere in this Buddha-land. On all
sides it is surrounded with golden nets, and all round covered with lotus flowers made of all the
precious things. Some of the lotus flowers are half a mile in circumference, others up to ten
miles. And from each jewel lotus issue thirty-six hundred thousand billions of rays of light. And
at the end of each ray issue thirty-six hundred thousand billions of Buddhas, with golden-colored
bodies, who bear the thirty-two marks of the great man, and who, in all the ten directions, go into
the countless [lower] realms and there teach the Law.
And many kinds of rivers flow along in this Pure Land. There are great rivers there, one mile
broad, and up to fifty miles broad and twelve miles deep. All these rivers flow along calmly;
their water is fragrant with manifold agreeable odors, and in them are bunches of flowers to
which various jewels adhere, and they resound with various sweet sounds. And the sound which
issues from these great rivers is as pleasant as that of a musical instrument consisting of hundreds
of thousands of billions of parts, and which, skillfully played, emits a heavenly music. It is deep,
commanding, distinct, clear, pleasant to the ear, touching the heart, delightful, and one never
tires of hearing it, as if it always said, "Impermanent, peaceful, calm, and not-self." Such is the
sound that reaches the ears of those beings. And, Ananda, both banks of those great rivers are
lined with variously scented jewel trees, and from them bunches of flowers, leaves, and branches
of all kinds hang down. And if those beings wish to indulge in sports full of heavenly delights on
those river-banks, then, after they have stepped into the water, the water in each case rises as
high as they wish it to--up to the ankles, or to the knees, or to the hips, or to their sides, or to
their ears. And heavenly delights arise. Again, if beings wish the water to be cold, for them it
becomes cold; if they wish it to be hot, for them it becomes hot; if they wish it to be hot and cold,
for them it becomes hot and cold, to suit their pleasure. And those rivers flow along, full of water
scented with the best perfumes, covered with lilies, lotus, and all manner of beautiful flowers,
resounding with the sounds of peacocks, sparrows, parrots, ducks, geese, herons, cranes, swans,
and others, with small islands inhabited by flocks of birds, easy to ford, free from mud, and with
golden sand on the bottom. And all the wishes those beings may think of, they will be fulfilled,
as long as they are rightful.
20. Buddhism. Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra 15-18
Rig Veda 10.154.5: This is a prayer to Yama, the judge of the dead, to allow the deceased to enter the
higher realms. Cf. Tibetan Book of the Dead, p. 347.
After this I looked, and lo, in heaven an open door! And the first voice, which I had heard
speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up hither, and I will show you what must take place
after this." At once I was in the Spirit, and lo, a throne stood in heaven, with One seated on the
throne! And he who sat there appeared like jasper and carnelian, and round the throne was a
rainbow that looked like an emerald. Round the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on
the thrones were twenty-four elders, clad in white garments, with golden crowns upon their
heads. From the throne issue flashes of lightning, and voices and peals of thunder, and before the
throne burn seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God; and before the throne there
is as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
And round the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front
and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third
living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the
four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes round about and within, and
day and night they never cease to sing,
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every
nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb
[Christ], clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud
voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!"...
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence
have they come?" I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are they who have
come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood
of the Lamb.
Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night within his temple;
and he who sits upon the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more;
the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water;
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
21. Christianity. Bible, Revelation 4.1-8; 7.9-17
Glory be to Him, who carried His servant by night from the Holy Mosque to the Further Mosque,
the precincts of which We have blessed, that We might show him some of Our signs.
22. Islam. Qur'an 17.1
Anas ibn Malik said, "Abu Dharr recounted that the Messenger of God said, 'While I was at
Mecca, the roof of my house opened and Gabriel entered. He opened my chest, washed me with
the water of Zamzam, brought a golden basin full of faith and wisdom and emptied all of it into
my chest. After that he closed it, took me by the hand and raised me towards the lowest heaven.
When I arrived at the lowest heaven, Gabriel said to the door-keeper "Open." "Who is there?" he
asked. "Gabriel," the angel replied. "Is there anyone with you?" responded the door-keeper.
"Yes," replied Gabriel, "Muhammad is with me." "Has he been commanded?" added the doorkeeper. "Yes," said the angel. When the door-keeper had opened to us, we rose up within the
lowest heaven, and suddenly we saw a man sitting, having some spirits on his right and others on
his left. Every time he looked to the right he smiled, but as soon as he looked to the left he wept.
He said, "Welcome virtuous prophet and virtuous son." "Who is this?" I asked Gabriel. "This
man," he replied, "is Adam, and those spirits on the right are destined to Paradise, while the
spirits on his left are destined to hell. That is why, when he looks to the right, he smiles, and
when he looks to the left, he weeps."
"'Then Gabriel raised me up to the second heaven and said to the door-keeper, "Open." He asked
the same questions as the first, and then opened to us.'" Anas recounted that Abu Dharr said that
the Prophet found in the various heavens Adam, Idris, Moses, Jesus, and Abraham, but he was
not certain which were the positions they occupied. What he does say is that Muhammad found
Adam in the lowest heaven and Abraham in the sixth heaven.
Anas adds, "When Gabriel came with the Prophet into the presence of Idris, the latter said,
'Welcome virtuous prophet.'" "When I asked 'Who is this?'" the Prophet went on, "Gabriel
answered me, 'It is Idris.' Then I went into the presence of Moses, who said, 'Welcome virtuous
prophet and virtuous brother.' 'Who is this?' I asked. 'Moses' replied the angel. I then went into
the presence of Jesus, who exclaimed, 'Welcome virtuous prophet and virtuous brother.' 'Who is
it?' I said. 'Jesus' replied Gabriel. I went after that into the presence of Abraham, who said,
'Welcome virtuous prophet and virtuous brother.' 'Who is it?' I asked. 'It is Abraham,' the angel
said to me."
Ibn Hazm records that Ibn `Abbas and Abu Habba al-Ansari said that the Prophet used the
following words, "Then the angel raised me until he brought me to a height where I heard the
beating of wings.... Then Gabriel led me away and brought me to the lote-tree of the Boundary,
which is covered with unspeakably beautiful colors. Next I entered Paradise. There are domes of
pearls, and the sun there is made of musk."
23. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari
Revelation 7.9-17: Cf. Revelation 21-22, pp. 1118f; Ezekiel 1.3-28, pp. 100f; Doctrine and Covenants
76.54-93, p. 322. Qur'an 17.1: This is the Night Journey (Mi`raj) of Muhammad, where he was
transported from the 'Holy Mosque' at Mecca to the 'Further Mosque' in Jerusalem, and then taken on a
tour of the seven heavens, even to the throne of God. The following hadith gives details of the latter
part of the journey. Hadith of Bukhari: An episode from this description of the Mi`raj where God
prescribes for Muslims fifty prayers a day and Muhammad, on Moses' advice, bargains with God to
reduce their number to five, omitted here, may be found on pp. 785f.
World Scripture
The following passages describe the lower realms of hell. Some say that hell is but a state of mind, yet as
anyone knows who has experienced the pangs of intense loneliness, remorse, shame, guilt, or loss, such
states of mind can be excruciatingly vivid. Furthermore, it is said that in the spiritual world it will not be
possible to avoid such feelings, as is usually done while in the body, through such devices as forgetting,
rationalization, or losing oneself in sense-pleasures or drink. There is no respite from unpleasant
feelings, which remain to torture the unfortunate soul continually. To describe such pain, which is
beyond comprehension, scriptures use concrete images: burning fire, boiling water, bitter cold, being
crushed, hacked and dismembered, trampled, burned, and eaten alive.
As for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolators,
and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second
1. Christianity. Bible, Revelation 21.8
There is a stream of fire from which emerge poisonous flames.
There is none else there except the self.
The waves of the ocean of fire are aflame
And the sinners are burning in them.
2. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Maru Solahe, M.1, p. 1026
Hell is before him, and he is made to drink a festering water, which he sips but can hardly
swallow. Death comes to him from every side, yet he cannot die--before him is a harsh doom.
3. Islam. Qur'an 14.15-16
Maru Solahe, M.1: Cf. Madaghishloka, p. 347. Qur'an 14.15-16: Cf. Qur'an 11:106-07, p. 517; 14:42-52,
p. 1100; 39:68-75, p. 348; 69:13-17, pp. 1098f.
Hell will lurk in ambush
to receive home the arrogant,
who will linger there for ages.
They will taste nothing cool in it nor any drink
except hot bathwater and slops,
a fitting compensation
since they have never expected any reckoning
and have wittingly rejected Our signs.
Everything We have calculated in writing.
"So taste! Yet We shall only increase torment for you!"
4. Islam. Qur'an 78.21-30
After their lifetime's end
They will enter the Avici hell,
For a complete kalpa;
Reborn at each kalpa's end,
They thus go on revolving
Unto innumerable kalpas;
When they come out of hell,
They will degrade into animals,
Such as dogs or jackals,
With lean-cheeked forms,
Blue-black with scabs and sores,
The sport of men;
Moreover by men
Hated and scorned,
Ever suffering hunger and thirst,
Bones and flesh withered up.
Alive, beaten with thorns,
Dead, with shards and stones;
By cutting themselves off from the Buddha seed,
They receive such recompense.
5. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 3
He went from there to the east. There men were dismembering one another, cutting off each of
their limbs, saying, "This to you, this to me!" He said: "O horrible! Men are here dismembering
one another, cutting off each of their limbs!" They replied, "In this way they have treated us in
the other world, and in the same way we now treat them in return." He asked, "Is there no
expiation for this?" "Yes, there is." "What is it?" "Your father knows it."
6. Hinduism. Satapatha Brahmana 11.6.3
Qur'an 78.21-30: See previous note. Lotus Sutra 3: Avici hell is the most severe of the Buddhist hells. In
this passage, 'such people' means those who treat the Lotus Sutra with disrespect or who maltreat its
followers. They will suffer the inevitable effect caused by accumulating such bad karma. Satapatha
Brahmana 11.6.3: In this passage the sage Bhrigu is given a tour of hell. Later, his father Varuna explains
the expiation for these sins through offering the fire sacrifice, the agnihotra.
Some of the sinful are cut with saws, like firewood, and others, thrown flat on the ground, are
chopped into pieces with axes. Some, their bodies half buried in a pit, are pierced in the head
with arrows. Others, fixed in the middle of a press, are squeezed like sugarcane. Some are
surrounded close with blazing charcoal, enwrapped with torches, and smelted like a lump of ore.
Some are plunged into heated butter, and others into heated oil, and like a cake thrown into the
frying pan they are turned about. Some are thrown in the path of huge maddened elephants, and
some with hands and feet bound are placed head downwards. Some are thrown into wells; some
are hurled from heights; others, plunged into pits full of worms, are eaten away by them....
Having experienced in due order the torments below, he comes here again, purified.
7. Hinduism. Garuda Purana 3.49-71
Then the man of unwholesome deeds boils in water infested with worms. He cannot stay still-the boiling pots, round and smooth like bowls, have no surfaces which he can get hold of. Then
he is in the jungle of sword blades, limbs mangled and hacked, the tongue hauled by hooks, the
body beaten and slashed. Then he is in Vetarani, a watery state difficult to get through, with its
two streams that cut like razors. The poor beings fall into it, living out their unwholesome deeds
of the past. Gnawed by hungry jackals, ravens and black dogs, and speckled vultures and crows,
the sufferers groan. Such a state is experienced by the man of unwholesome deeds. It is a state of
absolute suffering. So a sensible person in this world is as energetic and mindful as he can be.
8. Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 672-76
There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously
every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, who desired to be fed
with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor
man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was
buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and
Lazarus in his bosom. And he called out, "Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send
Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this
flame." But Abraham said, "Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things,
and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who
would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us."
And he said, "Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers,
so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment." But Abraham said,
"They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them." And he said, "No, father Abraham; but
if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent." He said to him, "If they do not hear
Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead."
9. Christianity. Luke 16.19-31
Garuda Purana 3.49-71: Vv. 49-54, 71. Regarding the last verse: the Eastern conception of hell in
Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism is analogous to the Christian concept of Purgatory. There is no eternal
damnation; hell is a place to expiate evil karma with the end that the purified soul can again advance to
a higher plane of existence. Cf. Markandeya Purana 13-15, p. 981. Sutta Nipata 672-76: Cf. Tibetan Book
of the Dead, p. 347; Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life 4.28-35, p. 392.
In the garden of the city of Sieu-Shui-Siuen, there once lived a man by the name of Fan Ki, who
led a wicked life. He induced men to stir up quarrels and lawsuits with each other, to seize by
violence what did not belong to them, and to dishonor other men's wives and daughters. When he
could not succeed easily in carrying out his evil purposes, he made use of the most odious
One day he died suddenly, but came back to life twenty-four hours afterward and bade his wife
gather together their relatives and neighbors. When all were assembled he told them that he had
seen the king of the dark realm who said to him, "Here the dead receive punishment for their
deeds of evil. The living know not the lot that is reserved for them. They must be thrown into a
bed of coals whose heat is in proportion to the extent of their crimes and to the harm they have
done their fellows."
The assembled company listened to this report as to the words of a feverish patient; they were
incredulous and refused to believe the story. But Fan Ki had filled the measure of crime, and
Yama, the king of hell, had decided to make an example of him so as to frighten men from their
evil ways. At Yama's command Fan Ki took a knife and mutilated himself, saying, "This is my
punishment for inciting men to dissolute lives." He put out both his eyes, saying, "This is my
punishment for having looked with anger at my parents, and at the wives and daughters of other
men with lust in my heart." He cut off his right hand, saying, "This is my punishment for having
killed a great number of animals." He cut open his body and plucked out his heart, saying, "This
is my punishment for causing others to die under tortures." And last of all he cut out his tongue
to punish himself for lying and slandering.
The rumor of these occurrences spread afar, and people came from every direction to see the
mangled body of the unhappy man. His wife and children were overcome with grief and shame,
and closed the door to keep out the curious crowd. But Fan Ki, still living by the ordeal of Yama,
said in inarticulate sounds, "I have but executed the commands of the king of hell, who wants my
punishment to serve as a warning to others. What right have you to prevent them from seeing
For six days the wicked man rolled upon the ground in the most horrible agonies, and at the end
of that time he died.
10. Taoism. Treatise on Response and Retribution, Appended Tales
World Scripture
The world's religions testify to the existence of a host of spiritual beings, occupying the various realms in
the spiritual world. The good and beneficent spiritual beings are for Christians the angels and departed
saints, for Mahayana Buddhists the great Bodhisattvas, and for Shintoists the Kami. Indian religions
speak of devas and devis, the Thirty-three, gandharvas or celestial musicians, and diverse other classes
of spiritual beings. Chinese religion has among its ranks of gods the Yellow Emperor, the Jade Emperor,
Lord Scripture Glory (Wen Chang), and countless personal spirits such as the spirit of the hearth. In
Native American religions the spiritual benefactors are forces active in the natural world: viz., the
Thunders, Mother Corn, sacred Stones, the Winds, Eagle, Sun, and Moon.
In the monotheistic religions, and in religions with an impersonal and utterly transcendent
conception of Absolute Reality, these spiritual benefactors, no matter how exalted, are regarded
as subordinate to Ultimate Reality. Yet since the Ultimate Reality is often inaccessible to
humans, the higher spiritual beings are frequently revered as intermediaries. Gabriel, an angel, is
the intermediary of divine revelation in Islam and the Latter-day Saints. For Buddhists,
Bodhisattvas personify aspects of Ultimate Reality in ways that can be more easily apprehended
by human beings who are too dull to grasp the perfect wisdom of Emptiness. In the primal
religions, in Shinto, and in Taoism the spirits of nature, the heavenly beings, and the most
prominent ancestors constitute the fellowship of spiritual beings that together cause the
movements of heaven and earth.
These spiritual beings have power. In many traditions the gods, goddesses, and benevolent spirits
of nature dispense blessings to the human world and keep their devotees from harm. Therefore, it
is requisite in many traditions that they be worshipped and supplied with offerings. We also
include traditions about making offerings for ancestors and relatives who have passed on. These
offerings ease their way into the next world and give them additional spiritual merit.
O gods! All your names are to be revered, saluted and adored; all of you who have sprung from
heaven and earth, listen here to my invocation.
1. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.63.2
I [the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra] relieve the distress of the beings of all evil realms, and
equally bestow happiness on them. I continue to do so through the lapse of boundless kalpas, and
in the extent of the ten quarters of the universe. The benefits of all are eternal, and omnipresent.
2. Buddhism. Gandavyuha Sutra
The Lord Scripture Glory says, "For seventeen generations I have been incarnated as a high
mandarin, and I have never oppressed my people nor maltreated my subordinates. I have helped
them in misfortune; I have rescued them from poverty; I have taken compassion on their
orphans; I have forgiven their transgressions; I have extensively practiced secret virtue which is
attuned to Heaven above. If you are able to keep your hearts as I have kept mine, Heaven will
surely bestow upon you blessings."
3. Taoism. Tract of the Quiet Way
Parvati, on seeing her son Ganesha resuscitated, embraced him joyously and clothed him with
new garments and ornaments. After kissing his face, she said, "O Ganesha, you have had great
distress since your very birth. You are blessed and contented now. You will receive worship
before all the gods. You will be free from distress. Vermillion is on your face now. Hence you
will be worshipped with vermillion by all men always.
"All achievements certainly accrue to him who performs your worship with flowers, sandal
paste, scents, auspicious food offerings, waving of lights, betel leaves, charitable gifts,
circumambulations, and obeisance. All kinds of obstacles will certainly perish."
Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu declared in unison, "O great gods, just as we three are worshipped in
all the three worlds, so also Ganesha shall be worshipped by all of you. He is the remover of all
obstacles and the bestower of the fruits of all rites."
4. Hinduism. Shiva Purana, Rudrasamhita 18
Rig Veda 10.63.2: Cf. Rig Veda 1.164.46, p. 59, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.9.1, p. 81. Gandavyuha
Sutra: The great bodhisattvas, who are worshipped in popular Buddhism, embody and symbolize
different aspects of the Buddha. Samantabhadra, which means Universally Good, is the embodiment of
the Buddha's vows and practices. Manjusri embodies the Buddha's wisdom. Avalokitesvara (Chinese:
Kuan Yin) embodies the Buddha's compassion for beings in distress. See also the famous hymn to Kuan
Yin in Lotus Sutra 25, pp. 566f. Tract of the Quiet Way: In popular Taoism the great officials and
emperors of old have ascended to heaven and become blessed spirits. Lord Scripture Glory (Wen Chang)
is one of the chief Taoist deities.
Are they [the angels] not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are
to obtain salvation?
5. Christianity. Bible, Hebrews 1.14
The work of the Holy Spirit is the phenomena which have been working to harmonize the
spiritual world and the human world through love.
6. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 5-1-81
Those who have said, "Our Lord is God," then have gone straight, upon them the angels descend,
saying, "Fear not, neither sorrow; rejoice in Paradise that you were promised. We are your
friends in the present life and in the world to come; therein you shall have all that your souls
7. Islam. Qur'an 41.30-31
If a man perform a religious precept, one angel is assigned to him; if he perform two precepts,
two angels are assigned to him; if he perform all the precepts, many angels are assigned to him;
as it is said, "For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all thy ways" (Psalm
91.11). Who are these angels? They are his guardians from the harmful spirits; as it is said, "A
thousand shall fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand" (Psalm 91.7).
8. Judaism. Midrash, Tanhuma Numbers 19
Now the Lord had shown to me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world
was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said,
"These I will make my rulers"; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they
were good; and he said to me, "Abraham, you are one of them; you were chosen before you were
And there stood one among them who was like unto God [Jesus Christ], and he said to those who
were with him, "We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials,
and we will make an earth on which these may dwell;
"And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things that the Lord their God shall
command them...."
And the Lord said, "Let us go down." And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the
gods, formed the heavens and the earth.
9. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3.22-4.1
Shiva Purana, Rudrasamhita 18: Ganesha is depicted with an elephant head and a human body. His
worship is popular among contemporary Hindus. In this, his foundation legend, Ganesha had been
decapitated in battle, and to restore him to life the head of an elephant was affixed to his body. He is
given blessings and is offered to humanity to be worshipped as 'the remover of all obstacles'--a role
suitable to the symbolism of an elephant. Hebrews 1.14: Cf. Qur'an 21.19-22, p. 84; Michi-no-Shiori, p.
84; Hebrews 13.1, p. 991. Many Christians revere the saints: chief among them Mary, the mother of
Jesus--cf. The Rosary, p. 834--from whom emanate grace for the people of the world. Sun Myung Moon,
5-1-81: Cf. Acts 2.1-18, p. 577; Romans 8.26-27, p. 648. Qur'an 41.30-31: Cf. Qur'an 13.10-11, p. 190;
50.17-19, p. 347. Tanhuma Numbers 19: Cf. Midrash, Psalms 17.8, p. 312; Abot 4.13, p. 338; Psalm 91.113, Tract of the Quiet Way, p. 1009.
Sansang suira!
There are eight peaks within the inner mountain,
And thirteen famous places in the outer mountain.
Within these famous mountains and the great heavens of all Buddhas,
The great altar of the nation is protected by the great generals.
Was not the general Chae Yong one of them?
The famous general of Korea,
Who was favored by his people....
Oh, I am the great mountain god.
If I sit down, I cover three thousand li [the entire land of Korea].
If I stand up, I stretch over ninety thousand li [the whole world].
If I look down with my clear mirror, I can observe ten thousand li.
Oh, I am the great mountain god.
What can you offer to satisfy me?
Is the whole pig covered with a red cloth enough?
Is the bundle of three different colored silks enough?
Offer many rich silks to me.
Oh, you, the husband and wife of this home.
Do you remember who gives you the food that sustains you?
Who gave you a home?
Who gave you wealth?
Who gave you long life?
I, the Sansang, gave you blessings and aid in times of need.
10. Korean Shamanism. Invocation of the Mountain Spirit
Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3.22-4.1: In the teaching of the Latter-Day Saints, all people pre-existed as
spirits and as gods, and they participated with God in the creation of the world. The text goes on to
review the contents of Genesis 1, pp. 126f, but with 'the gods' acting at each stage of creation. Shaman's
Invocation: Sansang is the Mountain God. As the mountain is a symbol of strength and power, Sansang is
also the god of great generals, and is personified by the famous general Chae Yong of the Silla dynasty.
The Mountain Spirit is also often symbolized by a tiger, who in legend inhabits the mountain recesses.
The shamaness (mudang) who invokes Sansang by singing this song wears a general's costume and a hat
with tiger's fur, and holds flags and a sword. Sansang is one of twelve spirits which are invoked in turn
during the shamanist ritual, which is called a kut.
I looked at the moss-covered stones. Some of them seemed to have the features of a man, but
they could not answer me. Then I had a dream, and in my dream one of these small, round stones
appeared to me and told me that the maker of all was Wakan Tanka, and that in order to honor
him I must honor his works in nature. The stone said that by my search I had shown myself
worthy of super- natural help. It said that if I were curing a sick person I might ask its assistance,
and that all the forces of nature would help me work a cure.... Some believe that these stones
descend with the lightning, but I believe they are on the ground and are projected downwards by
the bolt. In all my life I have been faithful to the sacred stones. I have lived according to their
requirements, and they have helped me in all my troubles. I have tried to qualify myself as well
as possible to handle these sacred stones. I know that I am not worthy to speak [directly] to
Wakan Tanka, so I make my requests of these stones and they are my intermediaries.
11. Native American Religions Sioux Tradition
"The path of the hekura is visible, luminous; there arises from it something like a fiery breath
that makes the air heavy and almost unbreathable. One does not see the hekura, one feels the
wind they raise when they move. During the hunt from which I just returned, I scattered the
hekura who were in me."
"Ordinary men are unable to recognize them. Yet the wind tells us that they are there."
"I see them only at night, when I close my eyes."
"One can see them only then."
"Their paths become luminous for me. I am sleeping; they approach and summon me to answer
them. They suddenly wake me by shaking my arm or pulling on my ankle."
"Those who are not truly shamans do not hear them. He who is really a shaman hears a kind of
buzzing, 'bouu...' during his sleep, and this song echoes, rebounding off the celestial vault. He
opens his eyes and says to himself, 'I am going to see them now!' The parrotlets sing, 'bre, bre,
bre...,' he knows that it is they. A cool breeze then glides along his legs..."
"I saw the hekura walk on a rotten branch; I was passing right underneath."
"Indeed, it was they; but they were not friendly toward you. The strong odors of the smoking
grill, the smell of singed hair, of scorched meat near the fire, all this drives them off. Yet they did
seem inclined to approach you."
"They give off a heady perfume; it comes from the dyes and the magic plants they carry with
them. Suddenly, I stopped smelling these aromas, my nostrils no longer perceived them."
"Therefore when one is at the end of the initiation, it is advisable not to hunt. If a flock of
toucans takes flight and one of them lands near you, then all the others immediately follow suit.
Be sure not to frighten them: stare at them fixedly and continue on your way; you be sure that
they are hekura. Of course, there are those you drove away during the hunt; but don't be overly
concerned, I foresee that those were not the good ones. The others remain, who came into your
breast while you were lying in your hammock. Those are truly yours, they are in you."
12. Native American Religions. Yanomami Shaman's Instruction (Brazil)
Sioux Tradition: Cf. Dakota Tradition on Wakan Tanka, p. 83; Cree Round Dance, p. 55; Cheyenne Song,
p. 294; Zuni Song, pp. 295f.; Gros Ventres Tradition of the Pipe Child, p. 247.
"Ah, the spirits of my ancestors have looked down from heaven, watching over and helping me.
The hosts of evil have now been subdued one and all, and we are without enemy or misfortune.
Let us now therefore give worship to the heavenly deities, vowing to abide by the teachings of
our imperial ancestors." With that, Emperor Jimmu prepared places of worship in the mountains
of Tomi... and thus performed worship to the imperial ancestors and to the heavenly deities.
13. Shinto. Nihon Shoki 3
The light which these souls [of departed saints] radiate is responsible for the progress of the
world and the advancement of its peoples. They are like leaven which leavens the world of
being, and constitute the animating force through which the arts and wonders of the world are
made manifest.... These souls and symbols of detachment have provided, and will continue to
provide, the supreme moving impulse in the world of being.
14. Baha'i Faith. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 81
The spirit that eats a man's offering, pays him back with life.
15. African Traditional Religions. Proverb
Yanomami Shaman's Instruction: This is a conversation between an experienced shaman and his
apprentice. Note how the shaman is trained to become sensitive to faint odors, sounds, and touch
which indicate the presence of spirits. More of this instruction is given on p. 528. Nihon Shoki 3: In
Shinto, there is little difference between the kami and the spirits of ancestors, deceased emperors, great
saints, and heroes. All are worthy of worship; all merge into the common spirit of divinity which guides
Japan; see One Hundred Poems on the Jewelled Spear, p. 780-. Cf. Book of Ritual, p. 856,
describing how ancestors are revered and worshipped in China. Gleanings from the Writings of
Baha'u'llah 81: Cf. Qur'an 4.69, p. 357. In Hebrews 11.1-12.2, pp. 754f., the saints are described as a
cloud of witnesses urging on the faithful.
The man who ignores Ogun will clear his farm with his bare hands.
16. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)
Our ancestors the emperors of old governed the realm by first paying worship to the kami with
reverence and awe. Widely worshipping the kami of mountain and river, they thereby had natural
concourse with heaven and earth. For this reason, summer and winter also turned in their season,
and the works of creation were in harmony.
17. Shinto. Nihon Shoki 22
In whatsoever place the prudent man shall make his home,
Let him support the virtuous ones who live the holy life.
To all the devas dwelling there let him make offerings.
Thus honored, they will honor him; revered, they'll him revere.
As a mother gives compassion to the child she has borne,
Whom the devas compassion give ever see good luck.
18. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya ii.88
Ala, come and drink and eat the kola nut.
Chukwu, come and drink and eat the kola nut.
Ancestors, come and drink and eat kola nut.
I was told by a man of Ngbwidi, one named Ehirim, that a man of Agunese had stolen his yams;
and so I summoned the priests of Ala and Aro holders and elders in order that we might inquire
into the matter. I called them, even as my father, who was priest of Njoku before me, used to do.
If any of these men, who have come to try the case, deal falsely in the matter, or if the accuser or
accused or any person called to give evidence tells falsehood, then do you, Ala, Chukwu, Njoku,
Ancestors, and Ofo, deal with that man.
19. African Traditional Religions. Igbo Invocation at a Trial (Nigeria)
Yoruba Proverb: Ogun is the god of iron, and hence of all tools, weapons, and machines. His worship is
very popular in Yoruba religion today. Nihon Shoki 22: The kami indwell the whole of life, and the divine
can be seen within all the manifestations of nature--the mountains, the streams, the forests, etc. Hence
respect for nature and respect for the gods are one in the same; see Urabe-no-Kanekuni, p. 293. Cf.
Book of Ritual, p. 856. Digha Nikaya ii.88: Cf. Anguttara Nikaya iii.368, p. 304; Precious
Garland 249-50, p. 301; Hebrews 13.1, p. 991. Igbo Invocation at a Trial: Ala is the earth goddess,
Chukwu is the Igbo name for God, the Creator; and Njoku is the yam deity. The Ofo and Aro are ritual
sticks of wood or iron, specially consecrated, that create a channel for the spirits to operate in this
world. Through their mediation, the gods can ferret out an evil-doer or a person who gives false
testimony and punish him with misfortune. Cf. Igbo Consecration of the Ofo, p. 769.
"War-bundle owners, I greet you. Ye elders, I am about to pour tobacco for the spirits.
"Hearken Earthmaker, our father, I am about to offer you a handful of tobacco. My ancestor soand-so concentrated his mind upon you. The fire- places with which you blessed him, the small
amount of life you granted to him, all, four times the blessings that you bestowed upon my
ancestor, I ask of you directly. May I have no troubles in life.
"Chief of the Thunderbirds, who lives in the west, you strengthened my grandfather. I am about
to offer you a handful of tobacco. The food, the pair of deer you gave him for his fireplaces, that
I ask of you directly. May you accept this tobacco from me and may I not meet with troubles.
"Great Black Hawk, you also blessed my grandfather. I am about to offer you tobacco. Whatever
food you blessed him with that I ask you directly. May I not meet with troubles.
"You [night spirits] on the other side, who live in the east, who walk in darkness, I am about to
offer you tobacco to smoke. Whatever you blessed my ancestor with, I ask of you. If you smoke
this tobacco I will never be a weakling.
"Disease-giver, you who live in the south; you who look like a man; who art invulnerable; who
on one side of your body present death and on the other life, you blessed my ancestor in the
daytime, in broad daylight. You blessed him with food and told him that he would never fail in
anything. You promised to avoid his home. You placed animals before him that he might easily
obtain food. I offer you tobacco that you may smoke it, and that I may not be troubled by
"To you, Sun, Light-wanderer, I make an offering of tobacco....
"To you, Grandmother Moon, who blessed my grandfather with food, I am about to make an
offering of tobacco....
"To you, too, South Wind, I offer a handful of tobacco....
"For you, Grandmother Earth, I will also pour tobacco....
"To you, Pair of Eagles, to whom my ancestor prayed, I offer tobacco....
"Hearken, all ye spirits to whom my ancestor prayed; to all of you I offer tobacco. My ancestor
gave a feast to all those who had blessed him. Bestow upon us once again all the blessings you
gave our ancestor, that we may not become weaklings. I greet you all."
20. Native American Religion. Winnebago Invocation at the Sweat Lodge
Winnebago Invocation: Cf. Dakota Testimony on Wakan Tanka, p. 83; Zuni Song, pp. 295f.; Sioux Vision
Quest, pp. 847f.; A Winnebago Father's Precepts, pp, 947f. On the origin of tobacco as a sacred mediator
to the beneficent spirits, see Sioux Tradition of the Sacred Pipe, pp. 852f.
Outside the walls they stand, at the crossways and outside doors, to their own home returning.
But when a plenteous meal is spread, of food and drink, no man remembers them [the dead].
Such is the way of things.
Wherefore do those who have pity on their kin make offerings due, of choice food and drink at
seasonable times, saying, "Be this a gift to kinsmen, may our kinsmen be well pleased with it!"
Then do those earth-bound [ghosts], kinsmen, gather there where a plenteous meal is spread of
food and drink, and fail not to render thanks, saying, "Long live our kinsmen, thanks to whom
we have this gift! To us this offering is made; not without fruit are they who give!"
For [in ghostland] no cattle-keeping, no ploughing of fields is seen. There is no trading there, as
on earth, no trafficking with gold. We ghosts that have departed there exist on what is given here.
Even as water gathered on high ground flows down into the marsh, so are offerings given here on
earth of service to the ghosts....
Of a truth, wailing and grief and all manner of lamentation avail not anything. It helps not the
ghosts that kinsmen stand lamenting thus.
Moreover, [if] this gift of charity is bestowed on the Order, it is bound to be of service [to the
ghosts] for a long, long time.
Thus this duty done to kinsmen has been declared: unto the ghosts it is no mean offering of
worship; unto the Brethren of the Order it is strength conferred; unto yourselves no small merit
has been won.
21. Buddhism. Khuddaka Patha, Tirokudda-sutta
There was a shrine to the water goddess in the village of Ch'ing Ch'i, and her image that was
placed there was so nicely carved that it looked like a real goddess of splendid beauty. The
villagers made her the guardian of the district and paid her great respect.
It was the second month of the year when the pear blossoms on the grounds were very pretty,
that a party of young students was passing by and admired the flowers. One of them lifted the
curtain that was hung before the image of the goddess and exclaimed, "How lovely she is! If she
were alive I would make her my mistress!"
His friends were shocked, but he laughed at their scruples, saying that spirits and gods have no
reality; that it is well enough for the people to believe in and fear them, because such superstition
made them more amenable. He then composed a libelous poem and wrote it on the wall, but his
friends did not say anything more, knowing the uselessness of their advice.
After this they all went to the examination hall, and stayed in the Wen Chang Dormitory. One
evening the Lord Scripture Glory (Wen Chang) appeared to them in a dream, and they were
greatly afraid to be in the presence of his august majesty. He had a roll on his table and declared
to them, "As you know well, any student who is guilty of trifling with women is excluded from
the list. Even a plain, ordinary woman should be respected by you; how much more this is true of
a holy goddess, you all must know. According to a report I have received it seems there is one of
your number who has insulted the goddess of Ch'ing Ch'i." Having ascertained the name of the
offender, the Lord canceled it from the list, adding that this was done because the man was guilty
of wronging a woman.
When the students met the following morning, they learned that each had the same dream during
the night. Yet the offender himself was obdurate and said, "What has the Lord of Literature to do
with such trifles? What harm can an image of clay do to me?"
He entered the examination cell, and having written down his seven essays with unusual vigor
and brilliancy, felt assured of his final success. But when the night was far advanced, there
appeared before him the goddess of water with her attendants. She censured him for both his
grave offense and impertinence, and then ordered her maids to strike him with their sticks until
the student lost his mind and destroyed all of his papers. When he was carried out of the cell in
the morning, he was unconscious, and soon died.
22. Taoism. Treatise on Response and Retribution, Appended Tales
Tirokudda-sutta: Cf. Doctrine and Covenants 128.18, p. 517.
World Scripture
Within the major religions, there is a current of deep distrust for spirits and their communications. Since
they are not comparable to Ultimate Reality, spirits are not privy to the highest truth. Christianity,
Judaism, and Islam have a tradition that groups of the angels have fallen into error and misunderstood
the will of God. Buddhism even regards the Creator god (the Hindu god Brahma) as one of these
subordinate deities, subordinate to the Dhamma revealed by the Buddha, as shown in the text from the
Digha Nikaya reprinted here.
Spirits are often viewed as fallible, motivated by selfish ends, and liable to mislead those who
rely on them for guidance. Furthermore, the spiritual world is also populated by evil spirits,
demons, fallen angels, and Satan--see Demonic Powers, pp. 435-44, as well as intermediate
spiritual beings including the jinn, spirits of the dead, and various classes of ghosts. Therefore, a
person should 'test the spirits to see whether they are of God,' based on the higher authority of
revealed truth. Occult practices, such as seeking information from mediums, witches, astrologers,
and otherwise penetrating the world of spirits, is condemned in many scriptures because it can
lead people astray through communication with spirits from the lower realms. Attachment to
revelations from spirits can sometimes rival genuine faith in God. Belief in miracles can also
lead astray. Faith, purity, adherence to revealed truth, and performance of good deeds are
superior ways to insure fellowship with spiritual beings of the highest levels.
Even in his servants he puts no trust,
and his angels he charges with error.
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Job 4.18
O Lord, how can a god or a demon know all the extent of your glory? You alone know what you
are, by the light of your innermost nature.
2. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 10.14
They say, "The All-merciful has taken to Him a son." Glory be to Him! Nay, but they [whom
they call 'sons'] are honored servants, that do not outstrip Him in speech; they perform as He
commands. He knows what is before them and behind them, and they do not intercede except for
the man with whom He is well-pleased. They tremble in awe of Him. If any of them says, "I am
a god apart from Him," such a one We recompense with hell, even as We recompense those who
do evil.
3. Islam. Qur'an 21.26-29
God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
"How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked?
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked."
They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
they walk about in darkness,
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
I say, "You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless you shall die like men,
and fall like any prince."
Arise, O God, judge the earth;
for to thee belong all the nations!
4. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 82
Say, It has been revealed to me that a company of the jinn gave ear. Then they said, "We have
indeed heard a Qur'an wonderful, guiding to rectitude. We believe in it, and we will not associate
with our Lord anyone. He--exalted by our Lord's majesty!--has not taken to Himself either
consort or a son.
"The fool among us spoke against God outrage, and we had thought that men and jinn would
never speak against God a lie. But there were certain men of mankind who would take refuge
with certain men of the jinn, and they increased them in vileness, and they thought, even as you
also thought, that God would never raise up anyone.
"And we stretched towards heaven, but we found it filled with terrible guards and meteors. We
would sit there on seats to hear; but any listening now finds a meteor in wait for him. And so we
know not whether evil is intended for those in the earth, or whether their Lord intends for them
"And some of us are righteous, and some of us are otherwise; we are sects differing. Indeed, we
thought that we should never be able to frustrate God in the earth, neither be able to frustrate
Him by flight. When we heard the guidance, we believed in it; and whosoever believes in his
Lord, he shall fear never paltriness nor vileness.
"And some of us have surrendered, and some of us have deviated. Those who have surrendered
sought rectitude; but as for those who have deviated, they have become firewood for hell."
5. Islam. Qur'an 72.1-15
Qur'an 21.26-29: This is directed against both polytheism and certain popular forms of Christianity which
take Jesus to be a separate god, the offspring of God the Father. Orthodox Christianity denies this: God
the Son, second Person of the Trinity, is not begotten, nor is he "a God apart from" the Father. Jesus as
the incarnation of the Son was always obedient to the Father's will. The Trinity is One God; it should
never be misunderstood as tri-theism. Cf. Qur'an 5.75, p. 655; also Qur'an 4.116-17, p. 405, and 21.1920, p. 84.
Once upon a time, Kevaddha, there occurred to a certain monk in this very company of monks, a
doubt on the following point: "Where now do these four basic elements--extension, cohesion,
heat, and motion--pass away, leaving no trace behind?" Then that monk worked himself up into
such a state of ecstasy that the way leading to the heaven of the gods became clear to his ecstatic
Then that monk went up to the realm of the Four Great Kings and asked the gods there, "Where,
my friends, do the four basic elements--extension, cohesion, heat, and motion--pass away,
leaving no trace behind?" The gods of the heaven of the Four Great Kings replied, "We do not
know that. But there are the Four Great Kings, more powerful and glorious than we. They will
Then that monk went up to the Four Great Kings and asked, "Where, my friends..." The Four
Great Kings replied, "We do not know that. But there are the gods of the heaven of the Thirtythree... They will know."
Then that monk, putting the same question and getting the same reply, went to Sakka, king of the
heaven of the Thirty-three... up to the Yama gods... to the Tusita gods... to the Nimmana-rati
gods... to the Vasavatti gods... to the retinue of the gods of the Heaven of God Almighty....
Finally the monk drew near to God Almighty [Brahma] and asked, "Where, my friend, do the
four basic elements--extension, cohesion, heat, and motion--pass away, leaving no trace behind?"
And the greatest god replied, "I am the Great God, Almighty, the Supreme One, the one who
cannot be conquered by others, All-seeing, All-powerful, the Ruler, the Creator, the Excellent,
the Almighty, the One who has already practiced Calm, the Father of all that are and all that are
to be!"
The monk said, "I did not ask you as to whether you were indeed all that you now say you are;
but I ask you where do the four basic elements cease, leaving no trace behind?" Then the god
gave the same reply. And yet a third time the monk put the same to question to god as before.
Then, Kevaddha, that greatest god took that monk by the arm and led him aside and said, "These
gods, the retinue of God Almighty, think me, friend, to be such that there is nothing I cannot see,
nothing I have not understood, nothing I have not realized. Therefore, I gave no answer to your
question in their presence. I do not know the answer to your question. Therefore, you have done
wrong, acted unskillfully, in that, going past the Buddha, you have undertaken this long search
for an answer to this question. Go back now to the Exalted One and accept his answer."
6. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya xi.67-83, Kevaddhasutta
Men of ignorance worship spirits and ghosts.
7. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 17.4
Do not turn to mediums or wizards; do not seek them out, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord
your God.
8. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Leviticus 19.31
My follower does not study the practice of magic and spells. He does not analyze dreams and
signs in sleep and movements in the Zodiac.
9. Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 927
Cursed be occult and miracle-making powers.
10. Sikhism. Var Sorath 20, M.3, p. 650
Confucius never discussed abnormal phenomena, physical exploits, disorderly conduct, or
spiritual beings.
11. Confucianism. Analects 7.20
Because I see danger in the practice of miracles, I loathe and abhor and repudiate them.
12. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya ix.66, Kevaddhasutta
Then a blind and dumb demoniac was brought to [Jesus], and he healed him, so that the dumb
man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, "Can this be the Son of David?"
But when the Pharisees heard it they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that
this man casts out demons."
13. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 12.22-24
Jesus answered them, "Truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs [that I am the
Christ] but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but
for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you."
14. Christianity. Bible, John 6.26-27
Bhagavad Gita 17.4: Cf. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10, p. 405. Matthew 12.22-24: Jesus performed
many miracles for the people. Yet to the skeptical leaders they proved nothing; the devil can also do
miracles. John 6.26-27: The common people also were more impressed by the miracle of multiplying the
loaves and fishes (see Mark 6.30-44, p. 638) than by Jesus himself and his message, and followed him to
see the show rather than to receive his wisdom. Miracles are not conducive to lasting faith.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many
false prophets have gone out into the world.
15. Christianity. Bible, 1 John 4.1
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that
when you were heathen, you were led astray to dumb idols, however you may have been moved.
Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus be
cursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord!" except by the Holy Spirit.
16. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 12.1-3
Indeed, even the devas are jealous of a yogin, striving as he does to surpass them by attaining
Brahman. They therefore try to lead him astray, in various ways, if they find him off his guard.
17. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.20
God is the protecting friend of those who believe. He brings them out of darkness into light. As
for those who disbelieve, their patrons are false deities. They bring them out of light into
18. Islam. Qur'an 2.257
Those who worship other gods with faith and devotion also worship Me, Arjuna, even if they do
not observe the usual forms. I am the object of all worship, its enjoyer and Lord. But they know
not My pure being, and because of this they must be reborn.
Those who worship the gods will go to the realm of the gods; those who worship their ancestors
will be united with them after death. Those who worship phantoms will become phantoms; but
My devotees will come to me.
19. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 9.23-25
1 John 4.1: Cf. 1 Timothy 4.1-2, p. 447; 2 Corinthians 11.14, p. 441; Qur'an 6.112, p. 447; Lotus Sutra 3,
pp. 441f. 1 Corinthians 12.1-3: Cf. John 14.13-14, p. 835; Srimad Bhagavatam 6.1, p. 832; John 14.15-21,
p. 645; Romans 8.26-27, p. 648. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.20: Cf. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10, p. 405;
Mahabharata 13.40.5-12, p. 433; Vishnu Purana 3.17-18, p. 448; Qur'an 17.61-64, p. 440. Qur'an 2.257:
Cf. Qur'an 4.116-17, p. 405. Bhagavad Gita 9.23-25: Cf. Vacana 616, p. 404.
To maintain the existence of a ghost,
Only brings about mischief;
To understand the non-existence of a ghost
Is the way of Buddha;
To know that ghost and Reality are one
Is the way to Liberation.
Knowing that the ghosts are all one's parents
Is the right understanding;
Realizing that the ghost itself is Self-mind
Is glory supreme.
20. Buddhism. Milarepa
World Scripture
The Human Condition
The War Within
Pride And Egotism
Selfish Desire, Lust, And Greed
Despite the purposes for human life, which are proclaimed by religion and, for the most part,
nurtured as ideals in the breasts of men and women, the human condition is in reality
characterized by suffering, war, oppression, poverty, vain striving, and disappointment. The
starting point of Buddhism, the first of the Four Noble Truths, is that all life is ill--full of trouble
and suffering. All religions recognize the correctness of this assertion in its broadest sense, that
the human condition contradicts and defeats a person's true purpose as ordained by God or
established by divine principles. The Christian understanding of man's inveterate tendency to do
evil and turn away from God is found in the doctrine of Original Sin. The texts describing these
and other comparable notions are brought together in the first section.
A second way to understand the human condition is to recognize human nature as the arena
where the desires to do good and evil are in protracted conflict. This may be understood as
reflecting a fundamental dualism within nature itself, or more commonly as a defect within the
human heart. Due to this war within, it is hardly possible to fulfill the highest aspirations to
goodness and holiness.
A third way of describing the human condition is by the theme of ignorance. Specifically, most
people pass their lives in ignorance of God, his laws, and his purposes. Blinded by illusion or
caught up in false values of materialism and egoism, their striving is in the wrong direction, one
that leads away from God and towards their own destruction. A related concept in the
monotheistic faiths is idolatry, which can mean allegiance to such false gods as money, power,
race, nation, or any partisan political cause when it is made an absolute end in itself. Then there
is pride and egoism, a most insidious form of ignorance, by which a person falsely places himself
over others.
In the last section we turn to the root of suffering in selfish desire and craving--the second of the
Four Noble Truths of Buddhism. The self-destructive character of selfish desire is widely
recognized in the scriptures of the world's religions. It is manifested in specific forms, including:
lust, anger, and greed.
The human condition is also understood as the result of a fall from a potential or primordial state
of grace or as a deviation from humanity's original purpose. These themes and the scriptures
which pertain to them will be treated in the next chapter.
World Scripture
The First of the Buddha's Four Noble Truths is that human existence is suffering, or ill (Pali
dukkha), which connotes the idea of an illness generated by the self through its false
attachments. Often this condition is described by the metaphor of a universal fire engulfing the
world. In Hinduism, the human lot of samsara is to go through an endless cycle of death and
rebirth, conditioned by nature (the gunas) and rooted in the results of past actions. This is likened
to a universal tree, turned upside-down, whose roots and branches trace the sequences of actions
(karma) back to the beginning of time: The whole of it is suffering. In Christianity, the doctrine
of Original Sin conveys a similar idea: Humans are, by their fallen condition, cut off from God
and hence unable to fulfill the true purpose of life. We may try to be good, but in spite of our
best efforts, we miss the mark. Original Sin, like the Hindu notion of samsara, is understood to
be a condition perpetuated throughout the generations of humankind. (The doctrine of Original
Sin also includes an explanation of its cause in the primordial Fall of Man, but that topic is
deferred to the next chapter.)
Analogous statements recognizing that the human condition is inveterately ill, deficient, or sinful
can be found in the scriptures of many religions. No one is untainted by sin and evil. Few are
they who truly seek truth, beauty, and goodness. Even when people begin with the best of
intentions, their behavior usually degenerates and ends in acrimony, betrayal, or violence.
The Noble Truth of Suffering (Dukkha) is this: Birth is suffering; aging is suffering; sickness is
suffering; death is suffering; sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are suffering;
association with the unpleasant is suffering; dissociation from the pleasant is suffering; not to get
what one wants is suffering--in brief, the five aggregates of attachment are suffering.
1. Buddhism. Samyutta Nikaya lvi.11: Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth
I look at what ordinary people find happiness in, what they all make a mad dash for, racing
around as though they couldn't stop--they all say they're happy with it. I'm not happy with it and
I'm not unhappy with it. In the end, is there really happiness or isn't there?
2. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 18
Affliction does not come from the dust,
nor does trouble sprout from the ground;
but man is born to trouble
as the sparks fly upward.
3. Judaism and Christianity. Job 5.6-7
This world, become ablaze, by touch of sense afflicted,
utters its own lament. Whatever conceit one has,
therein is instability. Becoming other,
bound to becoming, yet in becoming it rejoices.
Delight therein is fear, and what it fears is Ill.
4. Buddhism. Udana 32
Samyutta Nikaya lvi.11: This is the first of the Four Noble Truths, taken from the Buddha's first sermon.
The 'five aggregates,' or skandhas, are the elements of the personality to which we cling in our vain
craving for existence. They are: body-form, feeling, perception, activities which make karma, and
consciousness. Udana 32: Cf. Lankavatara Sutra 24, p. 398; Svetasvatara Upanishad 1.6-8, p. 398.
Brothers, all is burning. And what is the all that is burning? Brothers, the eye is burning, visible
forms are burning, visual consciousness is burning, visual impression is burning, also whatever
sensation, pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant, arises on account of the visual
impression, that too is burning. Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of
hate, with the fire of delusion; I say it is burning with birth, aging, and death, with sorrows, with
lamentations, with pains, with griefs, with despairs.
The ear is burning, sounds are burning, auditory consciousness is burning, auditory impression is
burning, also whatever sensation, pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant, arises on
account of the auditory impression, that too is burning. Burning with what? Burning with the fire
of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion; I say it is burning with birth, aging, and
death, with sorrows, with lamentations, with pains, with griefs, with despairs.
The nose is burning, odors are burning, olfactory consciousness is burning, olfactory impression
is burning....
The tongue is burning, flavors are burning, consciousness of flavor is burning, taste impression is
The body is burning, tangible things are burning, tactile consciousness is burning, tactile
sensation is burning....
The mind is burning, thoughts are burning, consciousness of thought is burning.... Burning with
what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion; I say it is
burning with birth, aging, and death, with sorrows, with lamentations, with pains, with griefs,
with despairs.
5. Buddhism. Samyutta Nikaya xxxv.28: The Fire Sermon
Farid, I thought I alone had sorrow;
Sorrow is spread all over the whole world.
From my roof-top I saw
Every home engulfed in sorrow's flames.
6. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Shalok, Farid, p. 1382
Kisa Gotami had an only son, and he died. In her grief she carried the dead child to all her
neighbors, asking them for medicine, and the people said, "She has lost her senses. The boy is
At length Kisa Gotami met a man who replied to her request, "I cannot give you medicine for
your child, but I know a physician who can. Go to Sakyamuni, the Buddha."
Kisa Gotami repaired to the Buddha and cried, "Lord and Master, give me the medicine that will
cure my boy."
The Buddha answered, "I want a handful of mustard seed." And when the girl in her joy
promised to procure it, the Buddha added, "The mustard seed must be taken from a house where
no one has lost a child, husband, parent, or friend."
Poor Kisa Gotami now went from house to house, and the people pitied her and said, "Here is the
mustard seed, take it!" But when she asked, "Did a son or daughter, a father or mother, die in
your family?" they answered her, "Alas! the living are few, but the dead are many. Do not
remind us of our deepest grief." And there was no house but some beloved one had died in it.
Kisa Gotami became weary and hopeless, and sat down at the way-side, watching the lights of
the city as they flickered up and were extinguished again. At last the darkness of night reigned
everywhere. And she considered the fate of men, that their lives flicker up and are extinguished.
And she thought to herself, "How selfish am I in my grief! Death is common to all; yet in this
valley of desolation there is a path that leads him to immortality who has surrendered all
Putting away the selfishness of her affection for her child, Kisa Gotami had the dead body buried
in the forest. Returning to the Buddha, she took refuge in him and found comfort in the Dharma.
7. Buddhism. Buddhaghosa, Parable of the Mustard Seed
Samyutta Nikaya xxxv.28: The theme of a world on fire is elaborated in the Lotus Sutra's Parable of the
Burning House; see p. 145n. Cf. Genesis Rabbah 39.1, p. 593; Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.1-7, pp.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
8. Judaism and Christianity. Ecclesiastes 3.1-8
Parable of the Mustard Seed: This parable appears in various sources in the Buddhist tradition. It
illustrates the principle of the impermanence of phenomena, the attachment to which is the basis of all
suffering. Cf. Diamond Sutra 32, p. 123; Lankavatara Sutra 24, p. 398. Ecclesiastes 3.1-8: This meditation
on the impermanence of life is often recited at funerals. Cf. Isaiah 40:6-8, p. 123.
There is an eternal pipal tree, with roots on high and branches downward. The verses of Scripture
are its leaves. Who understands this tree understands the Scriptures.
It stretches its branches upward and downward. The states of all things nurture the young shoots.
The young shoots are the nourishment of our senses. And below, the roots go far into the world
of men; they are the sequences of actions.
This understanding of the tree's shape--its end and its beginning, and its ground--is not open to
the ordinary world. The roots of that pipal tree have spread far. With the strong axe of
detachment a man should cut that tree.
9. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 15.1-3
No creature, whether born on earth or among the gods in heaven, is free from the conditioning of
the three states of matter (gunas).
10. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 18.40
The question as to when the union of soul with karma occurred for the first time cannot arise,
since this is a beginningless relation like gold and stone.
11. Jainism. Pancadyayi 2.35-36
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
12. Christianity. 1 John 1.8
Nor do I absolve my own self of blame; the human soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord
do bestow His mercy.
13. Islam. Qur'an 12.53
All men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written,
None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands, no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong;
no one does good, not even one.
14. Christianity. Romans 3.9-12
Bhagavad Gita 15.1-3: Cf. Suhi, M.5, p. 399, Svetasvatara Upanishad 1.6-8, p. 398; Uttaradhyayana Sutra
3.1-7, p. 315; Udana 77, p. 532. On the 'states of all things' (gunas) see the following note. Bhagavad
Gita 18.40: The three gunas or qualities of matter are goodness or purity (sattva), energy or passion
(rajas), and darkness or inertia (tamas). Every person contains all three qualities in different proportions,
as all light is a mixture of the three primary colors. As forces operating within the world of matter
(prakriti), the gunas condition human existence and obscure the way to the Self. Cf. Bhagavad Gita
13.19-22, p. 178. 1 John 1.8: Cf. Mark 10.17-18, p. 655; Jeremiah 17.9, p. 455; also Shinran, pp. 913f.
Qur'an 12.53: Cf. Quran 4.28, p. 509. Not even Muhammad, the best of men, regarded himself
blameless; cf. Qur'an 17.11, p. 389; Hadith of Muslim, p. 508. On the original uprightness of human
nature, see Qur'an 30.30, p. 215. Romans 3.9-12: Paul is quoting from Psalm 14, p. 396. Yet every person
still has a measure of conscience and moral sense; see Romans 2.14-16, p. 215. Cf. Book of Mormon,
Mosiah 3.19, p. 912.
Surely man was created fretful,
when evil visits him, impatient,
when good visits him, grudging,
save those that pray.
15. Islam. Qur'an 70.19-22
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
16. Judaism and Christianity. Psalm 51.5
Each of us is destined at birth to bear the legacy of man's first and continuing rebellion against
God. That legacy is the tendency to sin. A person sins when he succumbs to the inclination to
contravene the divine will by pursuing inordinate desires. It is an inclination that lurks in the
hearts of all people whether they believe in God or not, but many are not even aware of it.
17. Sekai Kyusei Kyo. Mokichi Okada, Johrei
Confucius said, "I for my part have never yet seen one who really cared for Goodness, nor one
who really abhorred wickedness. One who really cared for Goodness would never let any other
consideration come first. One who abhorred wickedness would be so constantly doing Good that
wickedness would never have a chance to get at him. Has anyone ever managed to do Good with
his whole might even as long as the space of a single day? I think not. Yet I for my part have
never seen anyone give up such an attempt because he had not the strength to go on."
18. Confucianism. Analects 4.6
Confucius remarked, "There is in the world now really no moral social order at all."
19. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 5
There is a male monkey in every forest.
20. African Traditional Religions. Tiv Proverb (Nigeria)
Qur'an 70.19-22: Cf. Qur'an 95.4-6, p. 453. Psalm 51.5: In the tradition of St. Augustine's explanation of
original sin, Protestants and Catholics have generally regarded the act of procreation as instrumental in
transmitting original sin from one generation to the next. But this does not make the act itself sinful.
According to Vatican II, Guadium et Spes, conjugal love is a means of grace in Christian marriage. Johrei:
This idea reflects the influence of Christianity on the new religions of Japan. Compare also the Jewish
concept of the evil inclination in Kiddushin 30b, p. 390, and Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3.19, p. 912.
Analects 4.6: The last sentence means that it is the will, not the way, that is wanting. Cf. Analects 14.2, p.
227. Tiv Proverb: Every community has its troublemaker, bully, or thief.
The slanderers of the true dharma in the latter age of decay are as numerous as the soil of all the
worlds in the universe is immeasurable. Those who keep the true dharma are as few in number as
a bit of soil on a fingernail.
21. Buddhism. Mahaparinirvana Sutra
Since beginningless past, all sentient beings and I have been parents and children, brothers and
sisters to each other. Being full of greed, hatred, and ignorance, pride, conceit, dishonesty,
deception, and all other afflictions, we have therefore harmed each other, plundering, raping, and
killing, doing all manner of evil. All sentient beings are like this--because of passions and
afflictions they do not respect or honor each other, they do not agree with or obey each other,
they do not defer to each other, they do not edify or guide each other, they do not care for each
other--they go on killing and injuring each other, being enemies and malefactors to each other.
Reflecting on myself as well as other sentient beings, we act shamelessly in the past, future, and
present, while the Buddhas of past, future, and present see and know it all.
22. Buddhism. Garland Sutra 22
How vast is God,
The ruler of men below!
How arrayed in terrors is God,
With many things irregular in his ordinations.
Heaven gave birth to the multitudes of the people,
But the nature it confers is not to be depended upon.
All are good at first,
But few prove themselves to be so at the last.
23. Confucianism. Book of Songs, Ode 255
When men get together to pit their strength in games of skill, they start off in a light and friendly
mood, but usually end up in a dark and angry one, and if they go on too long they start resorting
to various underhanded tricks. When men meet at some ceremony to drink, they start off in an
orderly manner, but usually end up in disorder, and if they go on too long they start indulging in
various irregular amusements. It is the same with all things. What starts out being sincere usually
ends up being deceitful. What was simple in the beginning acquires monstrous proportions in the
24. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 4
Mahaparinirvana Sutra: Nichiren Buddhists regard the present age as the Mappo, the Age of the
Degeneration of the Law, and for this reason the followers of the true Law are persecuted; cf. Lotus
Sutra 13, p. 1090. Book of Songs, Ode 255: On being 'good at first,' cf. Mencius IV.B.12, p. 214, and Book
of Ritual 38.13, p. 215; cf. Ecclesiastes 7.29, p. 453; Qur'an 95.4-6, p. 453.
World Scripture
Religions have conceptualized the infirmity of the human condition as an interior war between two
opposing natures, one good and the other evil. As long as people experience this state of contradiction,
they can neither realize their divine self nor achieve a state of unity and wholeness. Paradoxically, while
people immersed in worldly affairs may not always recognize the war within themselves, it is precisely in
leading a conscientious life, when striving to do good and be good, that this conflict comes to the fore.
The world's religions conceptualize this conflict in various ways. The first group of passages
locates the two natures in the fabric of creation itself: thus Zoroastrianism and Hinduism teach
that the earth is a battlefield between two opposing good and evil powers, and Hinduism and
Jainism distinguish between the divine Self and the material existence in which it is bound.
The monotheistic religions, however, cannot allow a dualism that locates the conflict in the
fabric of creation itself, for that would raise insuperable problems for the doctrine of the unity of
God. They delimit these warring powers to the carnal desires within the individual soul, or to the
errant spiritual influences which incite such desires--see Demonic Powers, pp. 435-44. The next
group of scripture passages hold this view: for example, Paul's observation of the war between
spirit and flesh and the Jewish doctrine of the Good and Evil Inclinations. Buddhism, which
regards material reality as resultant of mind and deals entirely on the level of psychology,
likewise emphasizes the war within the person, between its innate emptiness and the fetters
caused by craving for selfhood. We conclude with passages expressing the more general idea
that the human self is often its own worst enemy.
This body is mortal, always gripped by death, but within it dwells the immortal Self. This Self,
when associated in our consciousness with the body, is subject to pleasure and pain; and so long
as this association continues, freedom from pleasure and pain can no man find.
1. Hinduism. Chandogya Upanishad 8.12.1
Just as knowledge, in spite of it being intangible, gets obliterated under the influence of wine, so
the self, though originally intangible, gets its qualities obstructed under the influence of tangible
karma particles. In its state of bondage, the soul, though intangible, conceives itself to be
tangible [identical with the body].
2. Jainism. Pancadhyayi 2.57
Two birds, united always and known by the same name, closely cling to the same tree. One of
them eats the sweet fruit; the other looks on without eating.
Seated on the same tree, the jiva moans, bewildered by his impotence. But when he beholds the
other, the Lord worshipped by all, and His glory, he becomes free from grief.
When the seer beholds the self-luminous Creator, the Lord, the Purusha, the progenitor of
Brahma, then he, the wise seer, shakes off good and evil, becomes stainless, and reaches the
supreme unity.
3. Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.1-3
The First Fundamental Principle is the primary cause of the succession of deaths and rebirths
from beginningless time. It is the Principle of Ignorance, the outgoing principle of individuation,
manifestation, transformation, succession and discrimination. From the working out of this
Principle there has resulted the various differentiation of minds of all sentient beings, and all the
time they have been taking these limited and perturbed and contaminated minds to be their true
and natural Essence of Mind.
The Second Fundamental Principle is the primary cause of the pure unity of Enlightenment and
Nirvana that has existed from beginningless time. It is the principle of integrating compassion,
the indrawing, unifying principle of purity, harmony, likeness, rhythm, permanency, and peace.
By the indrawing of this Principle within the brightness of your own nature, its unifying spirit
can be discovered and developed and realized under all varieties of conditions.
4. Buddhism. Surangama Sutra
Pancadhyayi 2.57: Cf. Pancadhyayi 2.35-36, p. 383. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.1-3: The tree represents the
body. The two birds are the jiva or individual soul and the Atman or Self. Cf. Bhagavad Gita 13.19-22, pp.
178f.; Atharva Veda 19.51.1, p. 228. Surangama Sutra: Cf. Dhammapada 1-2, p. 722.
There are two orders of creation: one divine, the other demonic.
5. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 16.6
Yes, there are two fundamental spirits, twins which are renowned to be in conflict. In thought
and in word, in action, they are two: the good and the bad. And between these two, the
beneficent have correctly chosen, not the maleficent.
Furthermore, when these two spirits first came together, they created life and death, and now, in
the end the worst existence shall be for the deceitful but the best thinking [Heaven] for the
truthful person.
Of these two spirits, the deceitful one chose to bring to realization the worst things. But the very
virtuous spirit, who is clothed in the hardest stones, chose the truth, and so shall mortals who
shall satisfy the Wise Lord continuously with true actions.
6. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 30.3-5
The offspring of Prajapati were of two kinds: gods and demons. Of these the gods were younger
and the demons the older. They were disputing the possession of these worlds. The gods said,
"Well, let us overpower the demons at the sacrifice with the Udgitha chant [chanting the Sama
They said to speech, "Chant for us!" "Very well," she said. So speech chanted for them the
Udgitha. Whatever delight is in speech, that she chanted for the Gods; whatever she speaks well,
that is for herself. The demons knew: "By this singer they will overpower us." They attacked her
and pierced her with evil. The evil that makes one speak what is improper, that is that evil.
Then they said to the breath, "Chant for us!"... Whatever delight is in breath, that he chanted for
the gods; whatever fragrance he smells well, that is for himself. The demons... pierced him with
evil. The evil that makes one smell what is improper, that is that evil.
Then they said to the eye, "Chant for us!"... Whatever delight is in the eye, that he chanted for
the gods; whatever beautiful he sees, that is for himself. The demons... pierced him with evil.
The evil that makes one see what is improper, that is that evil.
Then they said to the ear, "Chant for us!"... Whatever delight is in the ear, that he chanted for the
gods; whatever he hears well, that is for himself. The demons... pierced him with evil. The evil
that makes one hear what is improper, that is that evil.
Then they said to the mind, "Chant for us!"... Whatever delight there is in the mind, that he
chanted for the gods; whatever he thinks well, that is for himself. The demons... pierced him with
evil. The evil that makes one think what is improper, that is that evil. Thus they afflicted the
senses with evil; they pierced them with evil.
Then they said to the Life Breath, "Chant for us!" "Very well," he said. So the Breath chanted for
them. The demons knew, "By this singer they will overpower us." They attacked him and wanted
to pierce him with evil. But just as a lump of earth is scattered when it strikes on a stone, in the
same way they were scattered in all directions and perished. Therefore the gods increased and the
demons diminished. He who knows this increases in himself and his enemies diminish.
7. Hinduism. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.1-7
Bhagavad Gita 16.6: Cf. Satapatha Brahmana, p. 441. Yasna 30.3-5: Zoroastrianism demands a
decision, to choose either the good or the evil spirit which rage in conflict within the self. Cf. Yasna 30.2,
p. 675; Videvdad 1.3-11, p. 438.
The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.
8. Christianity. Matthew 26.41
Man prays for evil as he prays for good; man is ever hasty.
9. Islam. Qur'an 17.11o
Every person has both a bad heart and a good heart. No matter how good a man seems, he has
some evil. No matter how bad a man seems, there is some good about him. No man is perfect.
10. Native American Religions. Mohawk Tradition
The mind is said to be twofold:
The pure and also the impure;
Impure--by union with desire;
Pure--from desire completely free.
11. Hinduism. Maitri Upanishad 6.34
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.1-7: The senses, though created good, are hopelessly invaded by evil--cf.
Samyutta Nikaya xxxv.28, p. 381; only the Life Breath (prana) remains inviolate. The prana is channeled
through yoga; hence it is through yoga and meditative disciplines that one can establish an inviolate
foundation of goodness within oneself. Qur'an 17.11: Prayer is an expression of one's desire and
intention; hence it is possible to pray for evil either out of ignorance or insincerity. Yet God does not
necessarily treat all prayers alike, for he looks for true piety; cf. Qur'an 2.177, p. 861. Mohawk Tradition:
This is the conclusion to a creation account given in full on pp. 438f. Maitri Upanishad 6.34: Cf. Mueller's
translation, p. 722. Cf. Dhammapada 1-2, p. 722; Bhagavad Gita 3.36-41, p. 417.
By the fetters of envy and selfishness are all bound--gods, men, demons, nagas, gandhabbas and
every other great class of beings--so that although they wish, "Would that we might live in
friendship, without hatred, injury, emnity or malignity," they still live in emnity, hating, injuring,
hostile, malign.
12. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya ii.276, Sakkapanha Suttanta
Rabbi Isaac said, "Man's evil inclination renews itself daily against him, as it is said, 'Every
imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil every day.' [Genesis 6.5]." And Rabbi
Simeon ben Levi said, "Man's evil inclination gathers strength against him daily and seeks to
slay him... and were not the Holy One, blessed be He, to help him, he could not prevail against
13. Judaism. Talmud, Kiddushin 30b
Five are the robbers lodged in this body-Lust, wrath, avarice, attachment, and egoism.
14. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sorath, M.3, p. 600
The self is the one invincible foe when acting with the four cardinal passions: anger, pride,
deceitfulness, and greed.
15. Jainism. Uttaradyayana Sutra 23.38
Lust, hatred, and delusion
ruin the man of wicked heart.
They are begotten in himself
like the lush growth of pith in the stem.
16. Buddhism. Itivuttaka 45
Alas, all my efforts have come to nothing!
I have not lessened my pride,
I have not cast down my vanity:
My mind is still the slave of evil impulses!
Nanak prays, O Lord, save, save!
17. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Shalok, M.9, p. 1428
Digha Nikaya ii.276: Cf. Maitri Upanishad 3.2, p. 412. Kiddushin 30b: This is the Jewish doctrine of the
Evil Inclination. See Kiddushin 30b, p. 526; Berakot 51, p. 926; Shabbat 105b, p. 407; cf. James 4.1-3, p.
416; 1 Peter 2.11, p. 926. Sorath, M.3: Sikhism describes the evil within the mind through the doctrine of
the Five Robbers. Cf. Asa-ki-Var, M.1, p. 456; Shalok Sehskriti, M.5, p. 1055. Shalok, M.9: Cf. Jaitsari
Chhant, M.5, p. 410.
I know what is good
but I am not inclined to do it;
I know also what is bad,
but I do not refrain from doing it;
I just do as I am prompted to do
by some divine spirit
standing in my heart.
18. Hinduism. Mahabharata
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it,
but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my
flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do
not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which
dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the
law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my
mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that
I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
19. Christianity. Romans 7.15-24
Man should discover his own reality
and not thwart himself.
For he has the self as his only friend,
or as his only enemy.
A person has the self as a friend
when he has conquered himself,
But if he rejects his own reality,
the self will war against him.
20. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 6.5-6
Mahabharata: These words are spoken by the evil King Duryodhana as he breaks his promise to the five
Pandava brothers to allow them to return from their exile in the forest to claim five villages. The 'divine
spirit' is really an evil spirit which affirms his evil intentions. Romans 7.15-24: Christians have interpreted
this passage in two ways: either Paul is describing his inner struggles prior to his conversion, or he is
speaking as a saved Christian who remains in a state of contradiction. In the former case, receiving
Christ brings wholeness and spiritual freedom, as the will becomes in accord with the Good; cf. 1 John
3.9, p. 227. The latter interpretation stresses that Christians are still bound by Original Sin and hence
must be subject to the discipline of the Church; cf. Romans 8.23, p. 318; James 4.1-3, p. 416; 1 Peter
2.11, p. 926. Bhagavad Gita 6.5-6: Cf. Matthew 12.30, p. 674; Acarangasutra 5.36, p. 679.
Surely God wrongs not men anything, but men wrong themselves.
21. Islam. Qur'an 10.44
By oneself alone is evil done; it is self-born, it is self-caused. Evil grinds the unwise as a
diamond grinds a hard gem.
22. Buddhism. Dhammapada 161
Whatever harm a foe may do to a foe, or a hater to a hater, an ill-directed mind can do one far
greater harm.
23. Buddhism. Dhammapada 42
The Reactive Mind is a portion of a person's mind which works on a totally stimulus-response
basis, which is not under his volitional control, and which exerts force and the power of
command over his awareness, purposes, thoughts, body, and actions. Stored in the Reactive
Mind are engrams, and here we find the single source of aberrations and psychosomatic ills.
24. Scientology. L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 0-8
Beware! your clinging-to-ego is greater than yourself;
Pay heed! your emotions are stronger than yourself.
Your vicious will is far wickeder than yourself;
Your habitual thought is more characteristic than yourself;
Your ceaseless mental activity is more frantic than yourself.
25. Buddhism. Milarepa
Although enemies such as hatred and craving
Have neither any arms nor legs,
And are neither courageous nor wise,
How have I been used like a slave by them?
For while they dwell within my mind
At their pleasure they cause me harm,
Yet I patiently endure them without any anger;
But this is an inappropriate and shameful time for patience.
Should even all the gods and anti-gods
Rise up against me as my enemies,
They could not lead nor place me in
The roaring fires of deepest hell.
But the mighty foe, these disturbing conceptions,
In a moment can cast me amidst [those flames]
Which when met will cause not even the ashes
Of the king of mountains to remain.
All other enemies are incapable
Of remaining for such a length of time
As can my disturbing conceptions,
The long-time enemy with neither beginning nor end....
While in cyclic existence, how can I be joyful and unafraid
If in my heart I readily prepare a place
For this incessant enemy of long duration,
The sole cause for the increase of all that harms me?
And how shall I ever have happiness
If in a net of attachment within my mind
There dwell the guardians of the prison of cyclic existence,
These disturbing conceptions that become my butchers and tormentors in hell?
26. Buddhism. Shantideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life 4.28-35
Dhammapada 42: Cf. Dhammapada 103, p. 731. Scientology 0-8: 'Engrams' are traces of unconscious
behaviors and habits. Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life 4.28-35: Cf. Dhammapada 33-37, p. 733;
Dhammapada 1-2, p. 722.
Mencius said, "How can one get a cruel man to listen to reason? He dwells happily in danger,
looks upon disaster as profitable and delights in what will lead him to perdition. If the cruel man
listened to reason, there would be no annihilated states or ruined families....
"Only when a man invites insult will others insult him. Only when a family invites destruction
will others destroy it. Only when a state invites invasion will others invade it. The T'ai Chia says,
When Heaven sends down calamities,
There is hope of weathering them;
When man brings them upon himself,
There is no hope of escape.
This describes well what I have said."
27. Confucianism. Mencius IV.A.8
Mencius IV.A.8: The T'ai Chia is a chapter in the Book of History.
World Scripture
Many religions regard the evils of the human condition as a result of ignorance. Being ignorant of the
truth about Ultimate Reality and the purpose of life, people's values become confused, and
consequently they act wrongly. In Hinduism and Jainism, this blindness (avidya) is what binds people to
the wheel of birth-and-death (samsara). In Buddhism, this ignorance (mithyajnana) leads to grasping
after self, and hence to error. In the Christian Bible, the apostle Paul taught that ignorance of God lay at
the root of all forms of license and immorality. In Islam it is the condition of forgetting God; as a result,
people ever since Adam have deviated from the path and lost their souls. Taoist sages condemn
knowledge of worldly things as a source of confusion about true values, and similarly we find in many
scriptures warnings against the illusory goals and vanities that infect worldly life.
This selection of passages is arranged in roughly the following order: We begin with the
practical observation that ignorance of Ultimate Reality spurs evil and demonic behavior. Next,
it is due to ignorance, according to the religions of India, that humans are bound to suffer on the
wheel of samsara, going through continual deaths and rebirths. Humanity's spiritual blindness is
the subject of the third group of passages, beginning with passages which describe ignorance as a
veil that obscures the faculty of insight. Other passages describe humanity's blindness by such
metaphors as frogs in a well and moths drawn to perish in a lamp. In our blindness, we are
attracted to the vanities of this world which are ephemeral and deceiving, according to the next
group of passages. We conclude with passages which reason that even evil itself is an illusion or
a bad dream.
My people go into exile for want of knowledge.
1. Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 5.13
Be not like those who forgot God, therefore He made them forget their own souls!
2. Islam. Qur'an 59.19
Only when men shall roll up space as if it were a simple skin, Only then will there be an end of
sorrow without acknowledging God.
3. Hinduism. Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.20
Whoever wants to do some evil against another does not remember God.
4. African Traditional Religions. Proverb
In sleep our nights wasted, in filling our belly the days:
This life, precious as a jewel, is forfeited for a cowrie shell.
Ignorant fool! You who have never realized God's Name, In the end into regrets shall fall.
5. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri Bairagani, M.1, p. 156
Although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became
futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they
became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man
or birds or animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to
impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth
about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is
blessed for ever! Amen.
6. Christianity. Romans 1.21-25
The fool says in his heart,
"There is no God."
They are all corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none that does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven
upon the children of men,
to see if there are any that act wisely,
that seek after God.
They have all gone astray,
they are all alike corrupt;
there is none that does good,
no, not one.
Have they no knowledge,
all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and do not call upon the Lord?
7. Judaism and Christianity. Psalm 14.1-4
Romans 1.21-25: Cf. Philippians 3.18-19, p. 407; Qur'an 45.23, p. 416.
Rabbi Hananiah ben Hakinai said, "No man lies to his neighbor until he has denied the Root. It
happened once that Rabbi Reuben was in Tiberias on the Sabbath, and a philosopher asked him,
'Who is the most hateful man in the world?' He replied, 'The man who denies his Creator.' 'How
so?' said the philosopher. Rabbi Reuben answered, '"Honor thy father and thy mother, thou shalt
do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false
witness against thy neighbor, thou shalt not covet." No man denies the derivative [the Ten
Commandments] until he has previously denied the Root [God], and no man sins unless he has
denied Him who commanded him not to commit that sin.'"
8. Judaism. Tosefta Shebuot 3.6
The demonic do things they should avoid and avoid the things they should do. They have no
sense of uprightness, purity, or truth.
"There is no God," they say, "no truth, no spiritual law, no moral order. The basis of life is sex;
what else can it be?" Holding such distorted views, possessing scant discrimination, they become
enemies of the world, causing suffering and destruction.
Hypocritical, proud, and arrogant, living in delusion and clinging to deluded ideas, insatiable in
their desires, they pursue their unclean ends. Although burdened with fears that end only with
death, they still maintain with complete assurance, "Gratification of lust is the highest that life
can offer."
Bound on all sides by scheming and anxiety, driven by anger and greed, they amass by any
means they can a hoard of money for the satisfaction of their cravings.
"I got this today," they say; "tomorrow I shall get that. This wealth is mine, and that will be mine
too. I have destroyed my enemies. I shall destroy others too! Am I not like God? I enjoy what I
want. I am successful. I am powerful. I am happy. I am rich and well-born. Who is equal to me?
I will perform sacrifices and give gifts, and rejoice in my own generosity." This is how they go
on, deluded by ignorance. Bound by their greed and entangled in a web of delusion, whirled
about by a fragmented mind, they fall into a dark hell.
9. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 16.7-16
Psalm 14.1-4: Cf. Isaiah 1.2-3, p. 456. Tosefta Shebuot 3.6: Cf. Pesikta Rabbati, pp. 167f.; Mekilta Exodus
12.6, p. 404. Bhagavad Gita 16.7-16: Cf. Isaiah 5.21, p. 409; Bhagavad Gita 3.41, p. 417; Acarangasutra
2.1-3, p. 421.
He who does not clearly understand Heaven will not be pure in virtue. He who has not mastered
the Way will find himself without any acceptable path of approach. He who does not understand
the Way is pitiable indeed!
10. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 11
This vast universe is a wheel, the wheel of Brahman. Upon it are all creatures that are subject to
birth, death, and rebirth. Round and round it turns, and never stops. As long as the individual self
thinks it is separate from the Lord, it revolves upon the wheel in bondage to the laws of birth,
death, and rebirth....
The Lord supports this universe, which is made up of the perishable and the imperishable, the
manifest and the unmanifest. The individual soul, forgetful of the Lord, attaches itself to pleasure
and thus is bound.
11. Hinduism. Svetasvatara Upanishad 1.6-8
By reason of the habit-energy stored up by false imagination since beginningless time, this world
is subject to change and destruction from moment to moment; it is like a river, a seed, a lamp,
wind, a cloud; like a monkey who is always restless, like a fly who is ever in search of unclean
things and defiled places, like a fire which is never satisfied. Again, [thought] is like a waterwheel or a machine: it goes on rolling the wheel of transmigration, carrying varieties of bodies
and forms... causing the wooden figures to move as a magician moves them. Mahamati, a
thorough understanding concerning these phenomena is called comprehending the egolessness of
12. Buddhism. Lankavatara Sutra 24
Intoxicated by the wine of illusion, like one intoxicated by wine; rushing about, like one
possessed of an evil spirit; bitten by the world, like one bitten by a great serpent; darkened by
passion, like the night; illusory, like magic; false, like a dream; pithless, like the inside of a
banana-tree; changing its dress in a moment, like an actor; fair in appearance, like a painted wall-thus they call him.
13. Hinduism. Maitri Upanishad 4.2
Owing to delusion, one again passes through cycles of birth and death. In this unbroken chain of
births and deaths, delusion keeps cropping up again and again.
14. Jainism. Acarangasutra 5.7-8
Chuang Tzu 11: Cf. Chuang Tzu 10, p. 799, on ignorance that comes to pervade even the world of nature.
Svetasvatara Upanishad 1.6-8: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 15.1-3, pp. 382f.; Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.7-10, pp.
861f. This wheel is a Buddhist symbol of bondage to samsara, due to ignorance. Lankavatara Sutra 24:
The impermanence of the world is essentially the impermanence of thought, out of which it is made. Cf.
Dhammapada 171, p. 959; Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 3, p. 220; Bhagavad Gita 15.1-3, pp. 382f. Maitri
Upanishad 4.2: See Bhagavad Gita 5.15-16, pp. 535f.; cf. Nahjul Balagha, Khutba 86, pp. 959f.
Acarangasutra 5.7-8: Cf. Uttaradhyayana Sutra 3.1-7, p. 315; Acarangasutra 2.55-56, p. 412; Pancadhyayi
2.57, p. 387.
Few see through the veil of maya.
15. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 7.25
Long is the night to the wakeful; long is the league to the weary; long is samsara to the foolish
who know not the sublime Truth.
16. Buddhism. Dhammapada 60
This world is as a juggler's show,
Wherein various disguises he assumes.
As he puts off his makeup, ended is His expanse [of creation].
Then is left the Sole Supreme Being.
How many various guises has He assumed and cast off?
To where have they gone? From where did they come?
From water arise innumerable waves;
From gold are shaped ornaments of various forms;
Many are the kinds of seeds sown:
As ripens the fruit, again is left the Sole Supreme Being.
Into thousands of pitchers falls reflection of the one sky;
As the pitcher is broken, the sole Light remains.
While thoughts of maya last, doubt, avarice, and attachment are found;
When illusion is lifted, only the Sole Supreme Being is left.
17. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Suhi, M.5, p. 736
The unbelievers... are like the depths of darkness
In a vast deep ocean,
Overwhelmed with billow,
Topped by billow,
Topped by dark clouds:
Depths of darkness,
One above another:
If a man stretches out his hand, he can hardly see it!
For any to whom God gives not light,
There is no light!
18. Islam. Qur'an 24.40
Within the Essence of Mind all things are intrinsically pure, like the azure of the sky and the
radiance of the sun and the moon which, when obscured by passing clouds, may appear as if
their brightness had been dimmed; but as soon as the clouds are blown away, brightness
reappears and all objects are fully illuminated. Learned Audience, our evil habits may be likened
unto the clouds; while Sagacity and Wisdom are like the sun and the moon respectively. When
we attach ourselves to outer objects, our Essence of Mind is clouded by wanton thoughts which
prevent our Sagacity and Wisdom from sending forth their light.
19. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 6
Bhagavad Gita 7.25: Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 8.3.2, p. 219. Qur'an 24.40: Cf. Qur'an 24.35, p. 536;
Nahjul Balagha, Khutba 86, p. 959f. Sutra of Hui Neng 6: Cf. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 3, p. 220;
Anguttara Nikaya i.10, p. 453; Chandogya Upanishad 8.3.2, p. 219; Bhagavad Gita 5.15-16, pp. 535f.
It is not the eyes that are blind, but blind are the hearts within the breasts.
20. Islam. Qur'an 22.46
Fools dwelling in darkness, but thinking themselves wise and erudite, go round and round, by
various tortuous paths, like the blind led by the blind.
21. Hinduism. Katha Upanishad 1.2.5
The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the
light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God.
22. Christianity. 2 Corinthians 4.4
Confucius said, "In vain I have looked for a single man capable of seeing his own faults and
bringing the charge home against himself."
23. Confucianism. Analects 5.26
They have hearts, but understand not with them; they have eyes, but perceive not with them; they
have ears, but they hear not with them. They are like cattle; nay, rather they are further astray.
Those--they are the heedless.
24. Islam. Qur'an 7.179
You shall indeed hear but never understand,
and you shall indeed see but never perceive.
For this people's heart has grown dull,
and their ears are heavy of hearing,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should perceive with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart,
and turn for me to heal them.
25. Christianity. Matthew 13.14-15
Blind is this world. Few are those who clearly see. As birds escape from a net, few go to a
blissful state.
26. Buddhism. Dhammapada 174
Qur'an 22.46: Cf. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 6, p. 218; Luke 11.34-36, p. 218. Katha Upanishad 1.2.5: Cf.
Udana 68-69, p. 68. 2 Corinthians 4.4: Cf. John 8.43-45, p. 436; Yasna 32.9, p. 436; Qur'an 35.5-6, p. 441.
Matthew 13.14-15: Cf. Mark 4.10-12, p. 803n. Dhammapada 174: Cf. Udana 75-76, p. 417.
As is a well full of frogs
Ignorant of the wide world,
So is my mind deluded by evil passions
Keeping out all thought of the Beyond.
Lord of all universes! show me for one instant a sight of Thee.
Lord! my senses have been fouled;
Thy state I cannot encompass.
Shower on me Thy grace;
Remove my delusions; confer on me true wisdom.
Great yogis for all their praxis
Comprehend not thy Reality inexpressible.
Through love and devotion mayst Thou be known,
Thus says Ravidas the cobbler.
27. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri Purabi, Ravi Das, p. 346
On a certain occasion the Exalted One was seated in the open air, on a night of inky darkness,
and oil lamps were burning. Swarms of winged insects kept falling into these oil lamps and
thereby met their end, came to destruction and utter ruin. Seeing those swarms of winged insects
so doing, the Exalted One saw the meaning in it and uttered this verse of uplift,
They hasten up and past, but miss the real;
a bondage ever new they cause to grow.
Just as the flutterers fall into the lamp,
so some are bent on what they see and hear.
28. Buddhism. Udana 72
The life of this world is but comfort of illusion.
29. Islam. Qur'an 3.185
Vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the
I have seen everything that is done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and a striving after
30. Judaism and Christianity. Ecclesiastes 1.2-3 and 1.14
Parable of those who reject their Lord: their works are as ashes on which the wind blows
furiously on a stormy day. No power have they over aught that they have earned. That is straying
far, far from the goal.
31. Islam. Qur'an 14.18
Gauri Purabi, Ravi Das: Cf. Jaitsari, M.5, p. 410. Udana 72: Cf. Udana 75-76, p. 417. Qur'an 3.185: Cf.
Qur'an 57.20, p. 328.
Men think much of their own advancement and of many other worldly things; but there is no
improvement in this decaying world, which is as a tempting dish, sweet-coated, yet full of deadly
gall within.... It is as intangible as a mist; try to lay hold of it, and it proves to be nothing!
32. Hinduism. Yoga Vasishtha
God, or good, never made man capable of sin. It is the opposite of good--that is, evil--which
seems to make men capable of wrongdoing. Hence evil is but an illusion, and it has no real basis.
33. Christian Science. Science and Health, 480
The Tathagata knows the polluted minds of beings for what they are. For he knows that the
minds of ordinary people are not actually polluted by the polluting forces of perverted views,
which, being nothing but wrong ideas, do not really find a place in them.
34. Buddhism. Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 12.3
The power that is not good--that is, the power that causes misfortune--is, after all, only a bad
The life that is not good--that is, disease--is, after all, only a bad dream.
All discords and imperfections are, after all, only bad dreams.
It is our bad dreams that give power to disease, misfortune, discord, and imperfection.
It is like being tortured by some demon in our dreams;
But when we awaken, we find that there is actually no such power,
And that we had suffered at the hands of our own mind.
35. Seicho-no-Ie. Nectarean Shower of Holy Doctrines
Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 12.3: Cf. Surangama Sutra, p. 454; Holy Teaching of
Vimalakirti 6, p. 442; Pancastikaya 38, p. 453.
World Scripture
For the monotheistic religions, the chief manifestation of ignorance is idolatry. Literally the
worship of images, idolatry in the broader sense means allegiance to false values that substitute
for God. In the Qur'an idols are regarded as evil spirits and Satan; those who worship them are
therefore enemies to God. The idol-gods, being spiritual beings, have the nature of creatures,
rather than of God, and hence cannot profit their adherents--cf. Spiritual Error and the Occult,
pp. 376-81. The Bible views idols as human artifacts, not as representations of deity. Hence idol
worship is regarded as a form of materialism, and, conversely, any false reliance on human
power or wealth is a form of idolatry. A more spiritual conception of idolatry is to identify it
with egoism and human craving, since attachment to these false realities separates us from our
true nature. In our century, the idols of nationalism, racism, and secular ideologies have
captivated millions, with horrible results.
Verily We have raised in every nation a messenger, proclaiming, "Serve God and shun false
1. Islam. Qur'an 16.36
The parable of those who take protectors other than God is that of the spider who builds for itself
a house; but truly the flimsiest of houses is the spider's house--if they only knew!
2. Islam. Qur'an 29.41
Qur'an 29:41: Cf. Qur'an 21.19-21, p. 84; 23.91-92, p. 83.
Set forth your case, says the Lord;
bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob....
Declare to us the things to come,
tell us what is to come hereafter,
that we may know that you are gods.
Do good, or do harm,
that we may be dismayed and terrified.
Behold, you are nothing,
and your work is nought;
an abomination is he who chooses you.
3. Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 41.21-24
How can you call that flirt a chaste lady
Who kisses and embraces every man she meets
And shamelessly says, "O Honey, my dear!"...
Behold! a faithful wife has but one husband!
Behold! a true believer has but one God!
Look! the fellowship of other gods is debauchery!
Look! to believe in different gods is harlotry!
4. Hinduism. Basavanna, Vacana 615-16
The Lord said to Hosea, "Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry, for
the land commits great harlotry by forsaking the Lord." So he went and took Gomer the daughter
of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
And the Lord said to him, "Call his name Jezreel, for yet a little while, and I will punish the
house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of
Israel. On that day, I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel."
She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the Lord said to him, "Call her name Not Pitied,
for I will no more have pity on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all."...
When she had weaned Not Pitied, she conceived and bore a son. And the Lord said, "Call his
name Not My People, for you are not my people and I am not your God."
5. Judaism and Christianity. Hosea 1.2-8
The law against idolatry outweighs all other commandments.
6. Judaism. Mekilta Exodus 12.6
Isaiah 41.21-24: God is calling the idol gods to account before the heavenly court. Cf. 1 Corinthians 8.46, p. 83. Hosea 1.2-8: God instructed the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute in order to dramatize
through his own marriage Israel's religious apostasy. As Gomer was unfaithful to the prophet, so Israel
was unfaithful to God. Gomer's children were given symbolic names as prophecies of coming judgment.
On idolatry as harlotry, cf. Jeremiah 2-3. Mekilta Exodus 12.6: Cf. Exodus 20.3-5, p. 166; Tosefta Shebuot
3.6, p. 397.
God forgives not joining other gods with Him; other sins than this He forgives whom He pleases.
One who joins other gods with God has strayed far, far away. The pagans, leaving Him, call but
upon female deities: they actually call upon Satan, the persistent rebel!
7. Islam. Qur'an 4.116-17
Whoever knows the self as "I am Brahman," becomes all this [universe]. Even the gods cannot
prevent his becoming this, for he has become their Self.
Now, if a man worships another deity, thinking, "He is one and I am another," he does not know.
He is like an animal to the gods. As many animals serve a man, so does each man serve the gods
[with offerings]. Even if one animal is taken away, it causes anguish to the owner; how much
more so when many are taken away! Therefore it is not pleasing to the gods that men should
know the truth.
8. Hinduism. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10
Who sees Me by form,
Who seeks Me in sound,
Perverted are his footsteps upon the Way;
For he cannot perceive the Tathagata.
9. Buddhism. Diamond Sutra 26
Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the
fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a graven image for yourselves, in the form of any
figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness
of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the
likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth.
10. Judaism and Christianity. Deuteronomy 4.15-18
Our God is in the heavens;
he does whatever he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of men's hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them are like them;
so are all who trust in them.
11. Judaism and Christianity. Psalm 115.3-8
Qur'an 4.116-17: Cf. Qur'an 21.26-29, p. 377. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10: Cf. Srimad Bhagavatam
11.20, p. 380; Qur'an 17.61-64, p. 440. Diamond Sutra 26: A similar stanza can be found in the
Theravada scriptures, at Theragatha 469. Deuteronomy 4.15-18: Cf. Romans 1.21-25, p. 396.
It is people who make the gods important.
If a spirit [idol] becomes too troublesome, it will be shown the tree from which it was carved.
12. African Traditional Religions. Kalabari Proverbs (Namibia)
Fools misjudge me when I take
a human form,
Because they do not know my supreme
state as Lord of Beings.
Unconscious, they fall prey to a beguiling nature
such as belongs to ogres and demons,
For their hopes [ascribing to God human motives] are vain, and so
are their rituals and their search for wisdom.
13. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 9.11-12
Their land is filled with silver and gold,
and there is no end to their treasures;
their land is filled with horses,
and there is no end to their chariots.
Their land is filled with idols;
they bow down to the work of their hands,
to what their own fingers have made.
So man is humbled, and men are brought low-forgive them not!
14. Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 2.7-9
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered
themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, "Up, make us gods, who shall go before us; as for
this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has
become of him." And Aaron said to them, "Take off the rings of gold which are in the ears of
your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me." So all the people took off the
rings of gold which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold at
their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made a molten calf; and they said, "These
are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!" When Aaron saw this, he
built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, "Tomorrow shall be a feast to the
Lord." And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings and brought peace
offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
15. Judaism and Christianity. Exodus 32.1-6
Psalm 115.3-8: The Bible has a number of satires on idols as human creations, mere objects unable to do
anything--for example Isaiah 44.9-20 and Jeremiah 10.1-10. Passages such as this have fostered a
general disdain for visual representations of the divine in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Such satires
are perhaps uncomprehending of genuine image-worship, in which the image is understood only as a
representation of transcendent Reality and a means to focus the mind on God, who is beyond form. Yet
veneration of images may become idolatry when the images are themselves regarded as having magical
powers. Bhagavad Gita 9.11-12: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 9.23-25, p. 380. Isaiah 2.7-9: Cf. Matthew 6.24, p.
Covetousness, which is idolatry.
16. Christianity. Colossians 3.5
"There shall be in you no strange god and you shall not worship a foreign god" [Psalm 81.10].
What is the "foreign god" within a man's body? It is the evil impulse.
17. Judaism. Talmud, Shabbat 105b
For many... live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly,
and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
18. Christianity. Philippians 3.18-19
Have you seen him who makes his desire his god, and God sends him astray purposely, and seals
up his hearing and his heart, and sets on his sight a covering? Who, then, will lead him after God
[has condemned him]? Will you not then heed?
19. Islam. Qur'an 45.23
Resolve to gain the victory over your own selves, that haply the whole earth may be freed and
sanctified from its servitude to the gods of its idle fancies--gods that have inflicted such loss
upon, and are responsible for the misery of, their wretched worshipers. These idols form the
obstacle that impedes man in his efforts to advance in the path of perfection.
20. Baha'i Faith. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 43
Shabbat 105b: On the Evil Inclination, cf. Kiddushin 30b, p. 390. Philippians 3.18-19: Cf. Romans 1.21-25,
p. 396.
World Scripture
The correlate of ignorance about Absolute Reality is pride and the inordinate preoccupation with one's
own self. Pride and egoism blind one to recognizing transcendent Reality, or even to taking an accurate
measure of oneself. Because of pride, a person thinks he is independent and cannot recognize that his
very existence is dependent upon Ultimate Reality. He is blind to his relationships to other people, and
neither can he conceive that there is a Deity who cares for him. In Christianity, pride is often regarded as
the first step to the fall and rebellion against God. In Buddhism, grasping after the self and the sense of
ego is the chief of all cravings and the deepest root of ignorance. In the Indic religions pride, like
ignorance, is a fetter that binds humans to the wheel of rebirth. The passages collected below discuss
pride as the cause of rebellion against God, as a hindrance to knowledge of Ultimate Reality, and as
leading to improper estimation of oneself.
Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
1. Judaism and Christianity. Proverbs 16.18
The mightily proud ultimately rot in their own arrogance.
2. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri Sukhmani 12, M.5, p. 278
Nay, but verily man is rebellious
For he thinks himself independent.
Lo! unto thy Lord is the return.
3. Islam. Qur'an 96.6-8
Proverbs 16.18: Cf. Matthew 23.12, p. 545; Erubin 13b, p. 545. Gauri Sukhmani 12, M.5: For more of this
passage, see pp. 546 and 950. Cf. Bhagavad Gita 16.7-16, p. 397; 18.58, p. 685.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and shrewd in their own sight!
4. Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 5.21
Selfishness may be sweet only for oneself, but no harmony of the whole can come from it.
5. Tenrikyo. Osashizu
We say that "Good" and "Harmony," and "Evil" and "Disharmony," are synonymous. Further we
maintain that all pain and suffering are results of want of Harmony, and that the one terrible and
only cause of the disturbance of Harmony is selfishness in some form or another.
6. Theosophy. Helena Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy
He who makes his thought better and worse, O Wise One,
Better and worse his conscience, by deed and by word,
He follows his leanings, his wishes, his likings.
In thy mind's force, at the end of times, he shall be set apart.
7. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 48.4
Turn not your cheek in scorn toward folk, nor walk with pertness in the land. Lo! God loves not
each braggart boaster. Be modest in your bearing and subdue your voice. Lo! the harshest of all
voices is the voice of the ass.
8. Islam. Qur'an 31.18-19
But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked;
you waxed fat, you grew thick, you became sleek;
then he forsook God who made him, and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.
9. Judaism and Christianity. Deuteronomy 32.15
I know that Western culture is characterized by individualism. However, selfish individualism is
doomed. Sacrificial individualism will blossom. Individuality in itself is good. God gave each of
us a unique way to serve. But individualism without God can only build castles on the sands of
10. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73
Isaiah 5.21: See Proverbs 3.5-6, p. 752; Luke 18.10-14, p. 902; cf. Bhagavad Gita 16.7-16, p. 397. Key to
Theosophy: Cf. Sun Myung Moon,10-20-73, p. 467. Qur'an 31.18-19: Cf. Samanasuttam 135-36, p. 912;
Doctrine of the Mean 33, p. 912. Deuteronomy 32.15: Cf. 1 Timothy 6.10, p. 420; James 4.13-16, p. 913.
Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73: Cf. Philippians 2.3-4, p. 915.
Nzame [God] is on high, man is on the earth.
Yeye O, Yalele, God is God, man is man.
Everyone in his house, everyone for himself.
11. African Traditional Religions. Fang Tradition (Gabon)
Like a traveler on earth, overstuffed with pride,
Committing innumerable sins, in maya-hues dyed, beings
Sunk in avarice, attachment, and pride are ruined.
Forgetful of death, involved with progeny, companions, worldly transactions, wife,
Is their life passed.
12. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Jaitsari Chhant, M.5, p. 705
The pride of your heart has deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rock,
whose dwelling is high,
who say in your heart,
"Who will bring me down to the ground?"
Though you soar aloft like the eagle,
though your nest is set among the stars,
thence I will bring you down, says the Lord.
13. Judaism and Christianity. Obadiah 3-4
For the Lord of hosts has a day
against all that is proud and lofty,
against all that is lifted up and high;
against all the cedars of Lebanon
lofty and lifted up;
and against all the oaks of Bashan;
against all the high mountains
and against all the lofty hills;
against every high tower,
and against every fortified wall;
against all the ships of Tarshish,
and against all the beautiful craft.
And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled,
and the pride of men shall be brought low;
and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
14. Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 2.12-17
Fang Tradition: This selection is taken from a creation story, and describes the rebellion of primal man as
springing from a false sense of of God's remoteness and man's independence. Jaitsari Chhant M.5: Cf.
Shalok, M.9, p. 390. Obadiah 3-4: This passage is an indictment of the Edomites, who thought their
fortresses in the high cliffs were impenetrable. Cf. 1 Samuel 2.4-9, pp. 545f.; Qur'an 89.6-14, p. 1086.
Isaiah 2.12-17: Cf. 1 Samuel 2.4-9, pp. 545f.; Matthew 3.12, p. 545; Erubin 13b, p. 545; Isaiah 24.18-23,
p. 1098.
All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.
15. Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 64.6
If you desire to obtain help, put away pride. Even a hair of pride shuts you off, as if by a great
16. Shinto. Oracle of Kasuga
The Buddha restrained Shariputra, "If I preach this matter [the Lotus Sutra], all the gods, men,
and asuras in all the worlds shall be alarmed, and the arrogant monks shall fall into a great trap.
My dharma is subtle and hard to imagine.
Those of overweening pride,
If they hear it, shall surely neither revere it nor
believe in it."
Yet Shariputra again addressed the Buddha, "I beseech you to preach, I beseech you to
preach!..." [The Buddha, prevailed upon by Shariputra, began to teach, but as he began,] in the
assembly monks, nuns, lay brothers, and lay sisters to the number of five thousand straightway
rose from their seats and, doing obeisance to the Buddha, withdrew. For what reason? This group
had deep and grave roots of sin and overweening pride, imagining themselves to have attained
and to have borne witness to what in fact they had not. Having such faults as these, therefore
they did not stay. The World-honored One, silent, did not restrain them.
The Buddha declared to Shariputra, "My assembly has no more branches and leaves, it has only
firm fruit. It is just as well that such arrogant ones as these have withdrawn. Now listen well, for
I will preach to you."
17. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 2
"Subhuti, what do you think? Does a holy one say within himself, 'I have obtained Perfective
Enlightenment?'" Subhuti replied, "No, World-honored One... If a holy one of Perfective
Enlightenment said to himself, 'Such am I,' he would necessarily partake of the idea of an egoidentity, a personality, a being, a separated individuality."
18. Buddhism. Diamond Sutra 9
Isaiah 64.6: This passage was originally a complaint by certain Israelites that they were being shunned by
society despite their faithfulness to God. But in the Christian tradition, it been understood as an
exclamation of the worthlessness of worldly fame or knowledge as mere pretense in the presence of the
divine majesty. Oracle of Kasuga: Cf. Sutta Nipata 798, p. 65; Sutra of Hui Neng 6, p. 399. The grand
shrine of Kasuga, in Nara prefecture, is one of Japan's oldest Shinto shrines. Lotus Sutra 2: The Buddha
seeks to weed out the prideful and retain only sincere disciples before he begins to preach the
wonderful Dharma of the Lotus Sutra. Cf. Sutta Nipata 798, p. 65. Diamond Sutra 9: Cf. Dhammapada 63,
p. 915; Tao Te Ching 71, p. 915; Shinran, pp. 913f.
Shun all pride and jealousy. Give up all idea of "me" and "mine".... As long as there is
consciousness of diversity and not of unity in the Self, a man ignorantly thinks of himself is a
separate being, as the "doer" of actions and the "experiencer" of effects. He remains subject to
birth and death, knows happiness and misery, is bound by his own deeds, good or bad.
19. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.4
He who has in his heart faith equal to a single grain of mustard seed will not enter hell, and he
who has in his heart as much pride as a grain of mustard seed will not enter paradise.
20. Islam. Hadith of Muslim
Where egoism exists, Thou are not experienced,
Where Thou art, is not egoism.
You who are learned, expound in your mind
this inexpressible proposition.
21. Sikhism. Maru-ki-Var, M.1, p. 1092
In thinking, "This is I" and "That is mine," he binds himself with his self, as does a bird with a
22. Hinduism. Maitri Upanishad 3.2
Travelling powerless, like a bucket traveling in a well:
First with the thought "I," misconceiving the self,
Then, arising attachment to things with the thought "mine."
23. Buddhism. Candrakirti, Madhyamakavatara 3
Not knowing the consequence of good and evil karmas, he is afflicted and hurt. Nevertheless, he,
due to his egotism, piles up [more] karmas and undergoes births and deaths again and again.
24. Jainism. Acarangasutra 2.55-56
The fool who thinks he is wise is called a fool indeed.
25. Buddhism. Dhammapada 63
Hadith of Muslim: Cf. Hadith of Bukhari, p. 911; Bhagavad Gita 18.58, p. 685. Maitri Upanishad 3.2: Cf.
Digha Nikaya ii.276, p. 390; Bhagavad Gita 2.71, p. 896. Madhyamakavatara 3: Candrakirti (ca. 560-640)
wrote the Madhyamakavatara to explain Nagarjuna's view of sunyata. It consists of twelve chapters.
Following the Dashabhumi Sutra, the first ten chapters explain the ten stages of perfections leading to
the Buddha-wisdom, and the final two chapters explain the stages of Bodhisattva and of Buddha. Cf.
Sutta Nipata 205-6, p. 914.
If I justify myself, my own mouth shall condemn me:
If I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.
26. Judaism and Christianity. Job 9.20
Whoever proclaims himself good,
know, goodness approaches him not.
27. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri Sukhmani 12, M.5, p. 278
Confucius said, A faultless man I cannot hope ever to meet; the most I can hope for is to meet a
man of fixed principles. Yet where all around I see Nothing pretending to be Something,
Emptiness pretending to be Fullness, Penury pretending to be Affluence, even a man of fixed
principles will be none too easy to find.
28. Confucianism. Analects 7.25
He who tiptoes cannot stand;
He who strides cannot walk.
He who shows himself is not conspicuous;
He who considers himself right is not illustrious;
He who brags will have no merit;
He who boasts will not endure.
From the point of view of the Way, these are like "excessive food and useless excrescences"
Which all creatures detest.
He who has the Way does not abide in them.
29. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 24
Pride has seven forms:
Boasting that one is lower than the lowly,
Or equal with the equal, or greater than
Or equal to the lowly
Is called the pride of selfhood.
Boasting that one is equal to those
Who by some quality are better than oneself
Is the pride of being superior. Thinking
That one is higher than the extremely high,
Who fancy themselves to be superior,
Is pride greater than pride;
Like an abscess in a tumor
It is very vicious.
Conceiving an "I" through ignorance
In the five empty [aggregates]
Which are called the appropriation
Is said to be the pride of thinking "I."
Thinking one has won fruits not yet
Attained is pride of conceit.
Praising oneself for faulty deeds
Is known by the wise as wrongful pride.
Deriding oneself, thinking
"I am senseless," is called
The pride of lowliness.
Such briefly are the seven prides.
30. Buddhism. Nagarjuna, Precious Garland 406-12
Gauri Sukhmani 12, M.5: See Gauri Sukhmani, M.5, p. 950. Analects 7.25: Cf. Chuang Tzu 1, p. 916. Tao
Te Ching 24: Cf. Tao Te Ching 71, p. 915.
World Scripture
Passion, greed, covetousness, hatred, lust: these emotions dominate the soul, causing blindness and
leading to destruction. Every major religion recognizes that suffering and evil are caused by excessive
desires or desires directed toward a selfish purpose. Buddhism has summed up this principle in the
second of the Four Noble Truths and denotes these desires by the term "craving." Craving is a fetter:
poisoning the heart, deluding the mind, and binding people to evil courses of action.
While all religions view selfish desire as baneful and the cause of much suffering, they differ in
explaining these selfish desires in relation to human psychology. Buddhism, and similarly
Jainism, reject desire of all kinds, even the grasping for existence itself, as harmful and a source
of bondage. In the monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and in some texts from
Sikhism and Hinduism, the passions of the flesh--which are evil--are distinguished from the
healthy ambition for goodness and the passion for God. Chinese religion condemns only
excessive desire and selfish desire: Desires themselves may be good if they are in harmony with
the Tao. Similarly, Hinduism honors desire when it takes its rightful place within the dharma of
family and society; this ambivalence is illustrated from a passage which identifies Kama, the god
of desire, with the generative forces of nature.
To these condemnations of selfish desires, the reader may add many additional passages
concerned with their renunciation, which may be found in The Noble Truth of the Origin of
suffering is this: It is craving that leads back to birth, bound up with passionate greed. It finds
fresh delight now here and now there, namely, craving for sense pleasures, craving for existence
and becoming, and craving for non-existence.
1. Buddhism. Samyutta Nikaya lvi.11: Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth
Have you seen him who makes his desire his god, and God sends him astray purposely, and seals
up his hearing and his heart, and sets on his sight a covering? Who, then, will lead him after God
[has condemned him]? Will you not then heed?
2. Islam. Qur'an 45.23
What causes wars, and what causes fighting among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in
your members? You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so
you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive,
because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
3. Christianity. James 4.1-3
The man who gathers flowers [of sensual pleasure], whose mind is distracted and who is insatiate
in desires, the Destroyer brings under his sway.
4. Buddhism. Dhammapada 48
Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God;" for God cannot be tempted with evil
and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his
own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown
brings forth death.
5. Christianity. James 1.13-15
In desire is man born;
From desire he consumes objects of various tastes;
By desire is he led away bound,
Buffeted across the face.
Bound by evil qualities is he chastised-6. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sri Raga Ashtpadi, M.1, p. 61
Envy and desire and ambition drive a man out of the world.
7. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 4.28
Samyutta Nikaya lvi.11: Cf. Dhammapada 212-16, p. 927. James 4.1-3: Cf. 1 Peter 2.11, p. 926; also Great
Learning 7, p. 928; Maitri Upanishad 6.28, p. 1054. Abot 4.28: Cf. Itivuttaka 45, p. 390; Uttaradhyayana
Sutra 23.38, p. 390; Sorath, M.3, p. 390.
There are three gates to self-destructive hell: lust, anger, and greed.
8. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 16.21
If a man fails to overcome illicit lustful desires, and pursues them, he will bring ruin upon
himself. In the end, he will bring destruction to this world and universe.
9. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 1-3-86
What is the force that binds us to selfish deeds, O Krishna? What power moves us, even against
our will, as if forcing us?
It is selfish desire and anger, arising from the state of being known as passion; these are the
appetites and evils which threaten a person in this life.
Just as a fire is covered by smoke and a mirror is obscured by dust, just as an embryo is
enveloped deep within the womb, knowledge is hidden by selfish desire--hidden, Arjuna, by this
unquenchable fire for self-satisfaction, the inveterate enemy of the wise.
Selfish desire is found in the senses, mind, and intellect, misleading them and burying wisdom in
delusion. Fight with all your strength, Arjuna! Controlling your senses, conquer your enemy, the
destroyer of knowledge and realization.
10. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 3.36-41
Clinging, in bondage to desires, not seeing
in bondage any fault, thus bound and fettered,
never can they cross the flood so wide and mighty.
Blinded are beings by their sense desires
spread over them like a net; covered are they
by cloak of craving; by their heedless ways
caught as a fish in the mouth of a funnel-net.
Decrepitude and death they journey to,
just as a sucking calf goes to its mother.
11. Buddhism. Udana 75-76
Bhagavad Gita 3.36-41: Cf. Maitri Upanishad 6.34, p. 389. Udana 75-76: Cf. Udana 72, p. 401.
The fish that is excessively attached to water, without water dies.
For love of the lotus is the humming-bee destroyed,
Finding not the way of escape...
Subdued by lust is the elephant caught,
Helpless under others' power.
For the love of sound the deer bows his head,
Thereby torn to pieces.
Beholding his family, by greed is man attracted,
With wealth involved:
Deeply in wealth involved, regarding it as his own,
Which inevitably he must leave behind.
Whoever with other than the Lord forms love,
Know him to be eternally the sufferer.
12. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Dhanasari, M.5, pp. 670-71
Just as a tree with roots unharmed and firm, though hewn down, sprouts again, even so while
latent craving is not rooted out, this sorrow springs up again and again.
If in anyone the thirty-six streams of craving that rush towards pleasurable thoughts are strong,
such a deluded person torrential thoughts of lust carry off.
The streams of craving flow everywhere. The creeper sprouts and stands. Seeing the creeper that
has sprung up, with wisdom cut off the root.
In beings there arise pleasures that rush towards sense-objects, and such beings are steeped in
craving. Bent on happiness, they seek happiness. Verily, such men come to birth and decay.
Folk enwrapt in craving are terrified like a captive hare. Held fast by fetters and bonds, for long
they come to sorrow again and again....
That which is made of iron, wood, or hemp, is not a strong bond, say the wise; the longing for
jewels, ornaments, children, and wives is a far greater attachment. That bond is strong, say the
wise. It hurls down, is supple, and is hard to loosen. This too the wise cut off, and leave the
world, with no longing, renouncing sensual pleasures.
Those who are infatuated with lust fall back into the stream, as does a spider into the web spun
by itself. This too the wise cut off, and wander, with no longing, released from all sorrow.
13. Buddhism. Dhammapada 338-47
Dhanasari, M.5: Cf. Gauri Purabi, Ravi Das, p. 401. Dhammapada 338-47: Vv. 338-42, 345-47. Cf.
Dhammapada 334-37, pp. 927f.; Itivuttaka 114-15, p. 542.
Confucius said, "I have never seen anyone whose desire to build up his moral power was as
strong as sexual desire."
14. Confucianism. Analects 9.17
There is no crime greater than having too many desires;
There is no disaster greater than not being content;
There is no misfortune greater than being covetous.
15. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 46
They say that woman is an enticement.
No, No, she is not so.
They say that money is an enticement.
No, No, it is not so.
They say that landed property is an enticement.
No, No, it is not so.
The real enticement is the insatiable appetite of the mind,
O Lord Guheswara!
16. Hinduism. Allama Prabhu, Vacana 91
All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the
ear filled with hearing.
17. Judaism and Christianity. Ecclesiastes 1.8
Desire never rests by enjoyment of lusts, as fire surely increases the more butter is offered to it.
18. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 2.94
Not by a shower of gold coins does contentment arise in sensual pleasures.
19. Buddhism. Dhammapada 186
Passion makes the bones rot.
20. Judaism and Christianity. Proverbs 14.30
Analects 9.17: Repeated at Analects 15.12. Allama Prabhu, Vacana 91: Allama Prabhu was a Shaivite
contemporary of Basavanna. This passage opposes the tendency to despise women as responsible for
men's downfall. Rather, men are at fault for their self-begotten lusts. Guheswara is a name of Shiva.
The ignorant one craves for a life of luxury and repeatedly hankers after pleasures. Haunted by
his own desires he gets benumbed and is rewarded only with suffering.
The benighted one is incompetent to assuage sufferings, because he is attached to desires and is
lecherous. Oppressed by physical and mental pain, he keeps rotating in a whirlpool of agony. I
say so.
21. Jainism. Acarangasutra 2.60, 74
The love of money is the root of all evils.
22. Christianity. 1 Timothy 6.10
Wealth is the fountainhead of inordinate craving.
23. Islam (Shiite). Nahjul Balagha, Saying 56
What is that love which is based on greed?
When there is greed, the love is false.
24. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Shalok, Farid, p. 1378
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money; nor he who loves wealth, with gain: this
also is vanity.
25. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Ecclesiastes 5.10
Even were the wealth of the entire world bestowed lavishly on a man, he would not be happy:
contentment is difficult to attain.
26. Jainism. Uttaradhyayana Sutra 8.16
O my wealth-coveting and foolish soul, when will you succeed in emancipating yourself from
the desire for wealth? Shame on my foolishness! I have been your toy! It is thus that one
becomes a slave of others. No one born on earth did ever attain to the end of desire.... Without
doubt, O Desire, your heart is as hard as adamant, since though affected by a hundred distresses,
you do not break into pieces! I know you, O Desire, and all those things that are dear to you! The
desire for wealth can never bring happiness.
27. Hinduism. Mahabharata, Santi Parva 177
1 Timothy 6.10: This is frequently misquoted. It states that it is the love of money, not money itself,
which is the root of all evils. Cf. Matthew 4.4, p. 937; 6.24, p. 937; 19.21-24, p. 837; Deuteronomy 32.15,
p. 409. Shalok, Farid: Cf. Asa-ki-Var, M.2, p. 1000.
He who considers wealth a good thing can never bear to give up his income; he who considers
eminence a good thing can never bear to give up his fame. He who has a taste for power can
never bear to hand over authority to others. Holding tight to these things, such men shiver with
fear; should they let them go, they would pine in sorrow. They never stop for a moment of
reflection, never cease to gaze with greedy eyes--they are men punished by Heaven.
28. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 14
Carnality is nothing but mundane existence, and mundane existence is nothing but carnality.
Stupefied by the acute torments caused by tempting passions, a sensual person dwells in
mundane existence, uttering, "My mother, my father, my brother, my sister, my wife, my son,
my daughter, my daughter-in-law, my friend, my kith and kin, my vast property and means, my
food and clothes." Infatuated by deep attachments to these, he dwells with them. He lives
constantly tormented by avidity; he endeavors to amass wealth in season and out of season;
being desirous of sensual pleasures, he is avid for money, so much so that he becomes an out and
out rogue committing theft or injury.... Such a man repeatedly becomes a killer of living beings.
29. Jainism. Acarangasutra 2.1-3
Do men delight in what they see?--they are corrupted by colors. Do they delight in what they
hear?--they are corrupted by sounds. Do they delight in benevolence?--they bring confusion to
virtue. Do they delight in righteousness?--they turn their backs on reason. Do they delight in
rites?--they are aiding artificiality. Do they delight in music?--they are aiding dissolution. Do
they delight in sageliness?--they are assisting artifice. Do they delight in knowledge?--they are
assisting the fault-finders. As long as the world rests in the true form of its inborn nature and
fate, it makes no difference whether these eight delights exist or not. But if the world does not
rest in the true form of its nature and fate, then these eight delights will begin to grow warped
and crooked, jumbled and deranged, and will bring confusion to the world. And if on top of that
the world begins to honor them and cherish them, then the delusion of the world is great indeed!
30. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 11
The gods asked Shiva to revive Kama [Desire], and they said, "Without Desire the whole
universe will be destroyed. How can you exist without Desire?" But Shiva replied in anger, "The
universe must continue without Desire, for it was he who caused all the gods, including Indra, to
fall from their places and become humble, and it is Desire who leads all creatures to hell.
Without Desire a man can do no evil.... I burnt Desire in order to give peace to all creatures, and
I will not revive him, since he is the evil at the root of all misery. Now all of you should set your
minds on asceticism." The gods and sages said, "What you have said, Shiva, is no doubt the very
best thing for us, but nevertheless, all of this universe was created by means of Desire, and all of
it is the form of Desire, and that Desire cannot be killed. How can you have burnt Kama? You
yourself made him and gave him the ability he has just used." But Shiva merely scowled and
31. Hinduism. Skanda Purana 1.1.21
Acarangasutra 2.1-3: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 16.7-16, p. 397. Chuang Tzu 11: Cf. Tao Te Ching 12, p. 934;
Great Learning 7, p. 928. Skanda Purana 1.1.21: Kama, here personified, is the principle of desire. Later,
Shiva accedes to the gods' request and revives Kama. The tension between asceticism and desire is a
theme which continues throughout the cycle of Shiva myths. Pure asceticism, by whose ardor (tapas)
the gods and sages sustain their divinity, and desire, whose energy engenders all life, are apparently
irreconcilable, yet both are necessary. Kama (love) is praised as the divine source of all creation in
Atharva Veda 9.2.19-20, p. 138.
World Scripture
CHAPTER 8: Fall and Deviation
The Human Fall
Demonic Powers
Degraded Human Nature
God's Grief
This chapter deals with topics around the theme of fall and deviation. The Fall can refer to the
primordial human fall posited by Christianity, or to a continual falling away from the purpose of
existence in the life of each individual person, or both. In Adam's sin we all have sinned: this can
mean we are genetically damaged by an Original Sin or that Adam was the archetypal sinner
whose fall we repeat continually. Regardless of how the Fall is understood, once having
deviated, fallen humans do not manifest their purpose of existence. In particular, we no longer
experience the immediate presence of God, nor are we truly ourselves. Hence we require
salvation to be restored to our original purpose.
The theme of deviation includes the topic of demonic powers. These have no place in a world
that fulfills its true purpose, yet they manifestly exist and wreak damage in our world. A related
topic is heresy, where error masquerades as true teachings and leads people astray.
A fourth section describes how the original human nature has been defiled, occluded, or
damaged. Animal instinct rather than wisdom has come to dominate behavior, and people's value
as temples of the divine spirit has been lost. The chapter closes with passages depicting the
sadness, grief, and pity which this human deviation elicits from the heart of God.
World Scripture
Belief that humanity fell from a primordial state of unity with God is a doctrine of the Abrahamic faiths,
and similar beliefs are also found in the mythology of many primal religions and in the doctrines of new
religions influenced by Christianity. Among the Abrahamic faiths the doctrine of the Fall takes varying
forms. In Christianity, the sin of the original man and woman is imputed to all humanity, and created an
enduring separation between humans and God which can only be remedied by Christ.[1] In Islam, on the
other hand, Adam's sin was his alone, and he, like all human beings, could return to a position of
acceptance by submission (Islam) to God. But the Fall did bring into existence Satan, setting up for all
humanity a trial which only some are able to endure. In Judaism we find a mixture of beliefs; rabbinic
passages gathered in this section which accept the biblical doctrine that the fall of Adam and Eve
brought a curse into the world are counterbalanced by other passages emphasizing individual
responsibility[2] and denying that we are culpable for the sins of our ancestor Adam. The Evil Inclination
which directs the soul to do evil may have been induced by a fall, but then again, it may have been
created by God.[3]
The human Fall is a significant teaching only in certain religions. It is logically necessary only
for religions in which (1) God is the only Creator, (2) the Creation was purposed to be good, and
(3) evil is regarded as real and contrary to the purpose of creation. But these three premises are
found together only in the Abrahamic faiths and in some other theistic religions. In
Zoroastrianism, where there are two creators--God and the devil--the origin of evil does not
involve a fall. Neither is there a doctrine of a fall in Buddhism, which lacks a doctrine of
creation. Hinduism, which (in Sankhya philosophy) regards matter to partake of evil elements, or
in which creation is an act of play (lila) and hence without moral purpose, also does not require a
doctrine of the Fall. Nevertheless, even religions like Buddhism and Hinduism have traditions
which speculate on a primordial fall from grace in order to explain the discrepancy between the
cosmos's pure origin and its present state of suffering.
The first group of passages are derived from or related to the story of the Fall in Genesis. The
accounts of this event are full of symbolism and open to varied interpretations. The Tempter-variously called Satan, Lucifer, or Iblis--instigates Adam and Eve to disobey God's command,
often with the hint that the act of the fall involved sexual misconduct. While the Bible attributes
the Fall mainly to the mistake of a woman, the Qur'an regards Adam and Eve as equally
culpable. The next group of passages are independent traditions from the primal religions,
Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shinto which give some account of the cause for the present deviation
of humanity from its pure origin. These traditions resemble the account of the fall in the
Abrahamic faiths in one or more respects: the theme of disobedience, of eating a forbidden food,
of sexual misconduct, and the culpability of the woman. The last group of passages, from the
Eastern religions, describe a belief that this world has declined from an original golden age of
purity and godliness. God's creation was originally pure, but with the progression of the ages the
Law has gradually fallen into disuse and human nature has degenerated.
11 Corinthians 15.21-22, p. 547. 2Ezekiel 18, pp. 681f. 3Kiddushin 30b, p. 526.
The Lord God took the man [Adam] and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And
the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but
of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it
you shall die."
Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit
for him." So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the
air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called
every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the
air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. So
the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs
and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he
made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my
bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one
flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.
Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He
said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" And the woman
said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, 'You shall
not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest
you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you
eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when
the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the
tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to
her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were
naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the
man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the
garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I
heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself."
He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded
you not to eat?" The man said, "The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit
of the tree, and I ate." Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?"
The woman said, "The serpent beguiled me, and I ate." The Lord God said to the serpent,
"Because you have done this,
Cursed are you above all cattle,
and above all wild animals;
Upon your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel."
To the woman He said,
"I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing,
in pain you shall bring forth children,
Yet your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you."
And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of
the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,'
cursed is the ground because of you;
in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
Thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
you are dust,
and to dust you shall return."
The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the Lord God
made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them.
Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil;
and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"-therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he
was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the Garden of Eden he placed the cherubim,
and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Genesis 2.15-3.24
It is We Who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels, "Bow down to Adam,"
and they bowed down; not so Iblis, he refused to be of those who bow down. [God] said, "What
prevented you from bowing down when I commanded you?" He said, "I am better than he; You
created me from fire, and him from clay." God said, "Get down from this place; it is not for you
to be arrogant here; get out, for you are of the meanest of creatures." He said, "Give me respite
till the day when they are raised up." God said, "Be among those who are to have respite."
He said, "Because you have thrown me out of the Way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on Your
Straight Way: Then will I assault them from before them and behind, from their right and their
left: nor will You find, in most of them, gratitude." God said, "Get out from this, disgraced and
expelled. If any of them follow you, I will fill hell with all of you.
"And Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in the Garden, and enjoy its good things as you wish, but
approach not this tree, or you will run into harm and transgression."
Then Satan began to whisper suggestions to them, bringing openly before their minds all their
shame that was previously unnoticed by them. He said, "Your Lord only forbade you this tree,
lest you should become angels or such beings as live forever." And he swore to them both, that
he was their sincere advisor. So by deceit he brought about their fall: when they tasted of the
tree, their shame [private parts] became apparent to them, and they began to sew together the
leaves of the Garden over their bodies.
And their Lord called unto them: "Did I not forbid you that tree, and tell you that Satan was an
avowed enemy unto you both?" They said: "Our Lord! we have wronged our own souls. If You
do not forgive us and do not grant us Your mercy, we shall certainly be lost." God said, "Get you
down, with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling place and your means of
livelihood--for a time. Therein shall you live, and therein you shall die; but from it shall you be
brought forth at last."
O Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be
an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness--that is the best. Such are among the signs
of God, that they may receive admonition.
O Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you in the same manner as he got your parents out of
the Garden, stripping them of their clothing in order to expose their private parts. He and his
tribe watch you from where you cannot see them! We have made the devils friends only to those
without faith.
2. Islam. Qur'an 7.11-27
Genesis 2.15-3.24: Cf. Luke 10.19-20, pp. 314f.; Qur'an 2.30-33, p. 313. On the primitive harmony of
paradise, cf. Chuang Tzu 9, p. 320.
God created man incorruptible, and made him in the image of his own nature, but through the
devil's envy, death came into the world.
3. Christianity. Bible, Wisdom of Solomon 2.23-24
Rabbi Aha said, "God deliberated how to create man. He said to Himself, 'If I create him like the
angels, he will be immortal. If I create him like the beasts, he will be mortal.' God decided to
leave man's conduct to his own free choice, and if he had not sinned, he would have been
4. Judaism. Midrash, Genesis Rabbah 8.11
Rabbi Abba said, "If Adam had not sinned, he would not have begotten children from the side of
the evil inclination, but he would have borne offspring from the side of the holy spirit. But now,
since all the children of men are born from the side of the evil inclination, they have no
permanence and are but short-lived, because there is in them an element of the 'other side.' But if
Adam had not sinned and had not been driven from the Garden of Eden, he would have begotten
progeny from the side of the holy spirit--a progeny holy as the celestial angels, who would have
endured for eternity, after the supernal pattern."
5. Judaism. Zohar 61a
What was the wicked serpent contemplating at that time? He thought, "I shall go and kill Adam
and wed his wife, and I shall be king over the whole world."
6. Judaism. Talmud, Abot de Rabbi Nathan 1
Qur'an 7.11-27: Cf. Qur'an 17.61-64, p. 440. In the last verses, the Qur'an relates Satan's deed in the
Garden to the pagan orgies of Muhammad's day. It also compares this primordial purpose of clothing
with the better way to protect one's purity, by modesty born of submission to God. Wisdom of Solomon
2.23-24: The fall brought death into the world, meaning spiritual death and loss of our original
relationship to God; cf. 1 Corinthians 15.21-22, p. 547; Romans 6.23, p. 580; cf. Berakot 18ab, p. 583;
Genesis Rabbah 10.4, p. 1113. Genesis Rabbah 8.11: The prevailing Jewish conception of the Fall regards
Adam as typical of all human beings. Like Adam, we all sin; we all fall. We are not condemned for an
original sin; we all have the choice of death or eternal life placed before us--cf. Ezekiel 18, pp. 681f. If
this passage is interpreted as referring specifically to Adam, it is affirming that God treated Adam as
responsible and free to choose, contrary to certain views which regard the fall as an ascent from
innocence to responsibility, to 'knowledge of good and evil'--compare Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2.1926, below. Zohar 61a: This passage speaks of an 'original sin,' as the fall is regarded as the source of the
Evil Inclination which is inherited by all humankind; see also Shabbat 145b-146a, p. 547. On the other
hand, in Kiddushin 30b, p. 526 there is the opinion that the Evil Inclination was created by God.
Rabbi Joshua ben Qarhah said, "Why does the scripture not place the verse 'And the Lord God
made for Adam and his wife garments of skin' (Genesis 3.21) immediately after 'And they were
both naked, and were not ashamed' (Genesis 2.25)? It teaches you through what sin that wicked
creature inveighed them: Because [the serpent] saw them engaged in their natural relations, he
conceived a lust for her."
7. Judaism. Midrash, Genesis Rabbah 18.6
After Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the Garden of
Eden, to till the earth.
And they have brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth.
And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they
might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time
was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of
men. For He gave commandment that all men must repent; for He showed unto all men that they
were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.
And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have
remained in the Garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the
same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and
had no end.
And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of
innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of Him who knows all things.
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
And the Messiah comes in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the
fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing
good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.
8. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2.19-26
Genesis Rabbah 18.6: In the dominant Jewish tradition Adam and Eve enjoyed married life prior to the
fall. In the Christian tradition, on the other hand, they are usually depicted as living chaste while in the
Garden. Illustrating the latter point of view we give the following passages from the Book of Mormon
and Divine Principle. On the devil's lust, cf. Shabbat 145b-146, p. 547. For another Jewish interpretation
of the forbidden fruit, see Sanhedrin 70ab, p. 499. Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2.19-26: The scriptures of
the Latter-day Saints give positive value to the human fall, agreeing with a minority tradition in
Christianity that views the fall as a 'happy fault' [felix culpa]. The fall was necessary both for procreation
and for the exercise of moral agency--to know the joy of ethical living. In addition, without the fall
humankind could not know the grace of redemption in Christ. For these reasons, the fall is considered to
have been within the plan of God; compare Hadith of Muslim, p. 523. The contrary Jewish position--that
unfallen humans were created endowed with moral agency, is given above in Genesis Rabbah 8.11.
All things were created to receive God's dominion through love. Therefore, love is the source of
life and the essence of happiness; love is the ideal of all creation. Accordingly, the more one
receives God's love, the more beautiful he or she becomes. So it was very natural that Eve looked
most beautiful in Lucifer's eyes. Moreover, when [immature] Eve was susceptible to his
temptation, Lucifer was strongly stimulated by an impulse of love toward Eve. At this point,
Lucifer dared to seduce Eve at the risk of his life. Lucifer, who left his position due to excessive
desire, and Eve, who desired to have her eyes opened like God's through a sexual relationship
before she was ready for it, thus formed a reciprocal base, and had sexual intercourse with each
other. The power of love derived from their give and take action was not based on the principle,
and they fell into an illicit relationship of spiritual love.
Eve received certain elements from Lucifer when she joined in one body with him through love.
First, she received from Lucifer the sense of fear, which came from his guilty conscience
because of their violation of the purpose of creation. Second, she received wisdom enabling her
to perceive that her intended spouse in the original nature of creation was not Lucifer but
Adam.... Eve then seduced Adam in the hope that she might rid herself of the fear derived from
the fall and stand before God by becoming, even then, one body with Adam, who was meant to
be her spouse.
Adam and Eve were meant to have become husband and wife, eternally centered on God, after
their perfection. However, at that time Eve was still in the period of immaturity. Eve joined with
Adam after she had the illicit relationship with the archangel and while Adam, too, was in his
period of immaturity. The premature conjugal relationship thus established between Adam and
Eve was centered on Satan and caused the physical fall.
Eve, having become one body with the archangel through their illicit sexual relationship, was in
the position of the archangel to Adam. Therefore Adam, whom God loved, looked very beautiful
to her. Adam was Eve's only hope of returning to God. Feeling this, Eve tempted Adam, just as
the archangel had tempted her. Adam and Eve formed a reciprocal base, and through their give
and take action, the power of love drew them closer. This powerful love made Adam leave his
original position and finally caused Eve and him to have an illicit sexual relationship.
Adam, by becoming one body with Eve, inherited all the elements Eve had received from
Lucifer, in the same manner she did. These elements were then transmitted to their descendants...
and mankind has multiplied sin to the present day, thus perpetuating the lineage of Satan.
9. Unification Church. Divine Principle I.2.2.2
Divine Principle I.2.2.2: The fall is here regarded as a corruption of human love. Love is meant to be the
most glorious and fulfilling emotion, expressing at the same time intimacy with God, but love was
misused and degraded. The fall was consummated when Adam and Eve had their first sexual
relationship, at the instigation of Satan, and expressing an evil motivation. Since then, human love has
been infected with self-centered elements. On the premise that the world would have been completed
through the God-centered love of perfected Adam and Eve, married under God's blessing, see Divine
Principle I., p. 253; cf. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73, p. 467; 3-30-90, p. 1091; 8-20-89, p. 577.
You must know, monks, that after the floods [that put out the conflagration that ended the last
cosmic cycle] receded and the earth came back into being, there was upon the face of the earth a
film more sweet-smelling than ambrosia. Do you want to know what was the taste of that film? It
was like the taste of grape wine in the mouth. And at this time the gods of the Abhasvara Heaven
said to one another, "Let us go and see what it looks like in Jambudvipa now that there is earth
again." So the young gods of that heaven came down into the world and saw that over the earth
was spread this film. They put their fingers into the earth and sucked them. Some put their
fingers into the earth many times and ate a great deal of this film, and these at once lost all their
majesty and brightness. Their bodies grew heavy and their substance became flesh and bone.
They lost their magic and could no longer fly. But there were others who ate only a little, and
these could still fly about in the air. And those that had lost their magic cried out to one another
in dismay, "Now we are in a very sad case. We have lost our magic. There is nothing for it but to
stay here on earth; for we cannot possibly get back to heaven." They stayed and fed upon the
film that covered the earth, and gazed at one another's beauty. Those among them that were most
passionate became women, and these gods and goddesses fulfilled their desires and pleasure in
one another. And this was how it was, monks, that when the world began love-making first
spread throughout the world; it is an old and constant thing. And that woman should appear in
the world, this too is an old thing, and not only a matter of today.
And the gods who had returned to heaven looked down and saw the young gods that had fallen,
and they came down and reproached them, saying, "Why are you behaving in this unclean way?"
Then the gods on earth thought to themselves, "We must find some way to be together without
being seen by others." So they made houses that would cover and hide them. Monks, that was
how houses first began.
[Now the people] seeing this thing of husbands and wives had begun, hated and despised such
couples and seized them with the left hand, pushed them with the right hand and drove them
away. But always after two months or maybe three they would come back again. Then the people
hit them or pelted them with sticks, clods of earth, tiles or stones. "Go and hide yourselves! Go
and hide yourselves properly!" That is why today when a girl is married she is pelted with
flowers or gold or silver or pieces of clothing or rice, and the people as they pelt her say, "May
peace and happiness, new bride, be yours!" Monks, in former times ill was meant by these things
that were done, but nowadays good is meant.
10. Buddhism. Ekottara Agama 34 and Ch'i-shih Ching
Ekottara Agama 34 and Ch'i-shih Ching: These are both texts from the Chinese Tripitaka. The Ekkotara
Agama is the Chinese translation of portions of the Anguttara Nikaya of the Pali scriptures. In the case of
this text, however, the parallel Pali version is found not in the Anguttara Nikaya, but in Digha Nikaya
iii.27, the Aggana Suttanta. See Dialogues of the Buddha, III, 82-85.
The deities Izanagi and Izanami descended from Heaven to the island Ono-goro and erected a
heavenly pillar and a spacious palace.
At this time Izanagi asked his wife Izanami, "How is your body formed?" She replied, "My
body, though it be formed, has one place which is formed insufficiently." Then Izanagi said, "My
body, though it be formed, has one place which is formed to excess. Therefore, I would like to
take that place in my body which is formed to excess and insert it into that place in your body
which is formed insufficiently, and thus give birth to the land. How would this be?" "That will be
good," said Izanami. "Then let us, you and me, walk in a circle around this heavenly pillar and
meet and have conjugal intercourse," said Izanagi. "You walk around from the right, and I will
walk around from the left and meet you."
After having agreed to this, they circled around; then Izanami said first, "How delightful! I have
met a lovely lad!" Afterwards, Izanagi said, "How delightful! I have met a lovely maiden!" After
each had spoken, Izanagi said to his wife, "It was not proper that the woman should speak first."
Nevertheless, they commenced procreation and gave birth to a leech-child. They placed this
child into a boat made of reeds and floated it away.
Then the two deities consulted together, "The child which we have just borne is not good. It is
best to report this before the heavenly gods." So they ascended together and sought the will of
the heavenly gods. The gods thereupon performed a grand divination, and said, "Because the
woman spoke first, the child was not good. Descend once more and say it again."
Then they descended again and walked once more in a circle around the heavenly pillar as
before. "How delightful! I have met a lovely maiden!" "How delightful! I have met a lovely lad!"
Thus they united and gave birth to children, [the eight islands of Japan].
11. Shinto. Kojiki 4.1-6.1
Kojiki 4-6: The deities Izanagi and Izanami represent the union of opposites, yang and yin, which is the
source of all life divine and human--cf. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.1.i-iv, p. 178. However, these
deities at first erred in the ritual of conjugal intercourse by which they were to create the land and all
things. Their mistake was in allowing the woman to take initiative--a parallel to Eve's haste to eat the
fruit in the Genesis story. The 'leech-child' (piru-go) was a monstrosity who was allowed to die of
exposure. Izanami, too, would eventually die in childbirth (Kojiki 7.22); compare the curses in Genesis
3.3 and 3.16.
The Japanese philosopher Nishida regards this myth as the Shinto version of Original Sin.
According to Nishida, as Izanagi and Izanami were brother and sister, everything in the universe
originated from an incestuous marriage. The procession around the heavenly pillar was a ritual
designed to overcome the incest taboo, but the error in carrying out this ritual nullified its effect.
Hence all humanity is the result of incest. The death of Izanami, the symbolic death of their
daughter Amaterasu-omi-kami (Kojiki 15) and the expulsion of their son Susanoo (Kojiki 17.25)
were punishments endured by the Shinto gods to atone for this original mistake.
The Creator, Fidi Mukullu, made all things including man. He also planted banana trees. When
the bananas were ripe He sent the sun to harvest them. The sun brought back a full basket to Fidi
Mukullu, who asked him if he had eaten any. The sun answered "no," and the Creator decided to
put him to a test. He made the sun go down into a hole dug in the earth, then asked him when he
wanted to get out. "Tomorrow morning, early," answered the sun. "If you did not lie," the
Creator told him, "you will get out early tomorrow morning." The next day the sun appeared at
the desired moment, confirming his honesty. Next the moon was ordered to gather God's bananas
and was put to the same test. She also got out successfully. Then came man's turn to perform the
same task. However, on his way to the Creator he ate a portion of the bananas, but denied doing
so. Put to the same test as the sun and the moon, man said that he wanted to leave the hole at the
end of five days. But he never got out. Fidi Mukullu said, "Man lied. That is why man will die
and will never reappear."
12. African Traditional Religions. BaSonge tradition (Zaire)
In the beginning God was very close to man, for the sky then lay just above the earth. There was
no death, sickness, sorrow, or hunger, and men were content with one grain of millet a day
granted them by God. One day, a greedy woman, who wanted to pound more than the one grain
permitted, used a long-handled pestle and struck the sky. This angered God, who withdrew with
the sky to its present position far above the earth. Since then the country has become spoiled, and
men are now subject to death, sickness, hunger, and disease.
13. African Traditional Religions. Dinka tradition (Sudan)
In the olden days, when God still lived among men, Death did not live among men. Whenever he
happened to stray onto the earth, God (Imana) would chase it away with his hunting dogs. One
day during such a chase, Death was forced into a narrow space and would have been caught and
destroyed. But in his straits he found a woman, and promised her that if she hid him he would
spare her and her family. The woman opened her mouth and Death jumped inside. When God
came to her and asked her if she had seen Death, she denied ever seeing him. But God, the AllSeeing One, knew what happened, and told the woman that since she had hidden Death, in the
future Death would destroy her and all her children. From that moment death spread all over the
14. African Traditional Religions. Urundi tradition (Burundi)
Dinka tradition: Many African myths explain how in primordial times God withdrew far from the human
realm. Variations on this particular version of the myth of God's withdrawal are found in the traditions
of many African peoples. Cf. Dinka song, p. 459; Fang tradition, p. 410.
Formerly, all creatures were virtuous, and by themselves they obtained divinity. Therefore the
gods became worried, so Brahma created women in order to delude men. Then women, who had
been virtuous, became wicked witches, and Brahma filled them with wanton desires, which they
in turn inspired in men. He created anger, and henceforth all creatures were born in the power of
desire and anger.
15. Hinduism. Mahabharata 13.40.5-12
Formerly Prajapati brought forth pure creatures, who were truthful and virtuous. These creatures
joined the gods in the sky whenever they wished, and they lived and died by their own wish. In
another time, those who dwelt on earth were overcome by desire and anger, and they were
abandoned by the gods. Then by their foul deeds these evil ones were trapped in the chain of
rebirth, and they became atheists.
16. Hinduism. Mahabharata 3.181.11-20
In the Krita [golden age], Dharma is four-footed and entire, and so is Truth; nor does any gain
accrue to men by unrighteousness.
In the other three ages, by reason of unjust gains, Dharma is deprived successively of one foot,
and through the prevalence of theft, falsehood, and fraud the merit gained by men is diminished
by one-fourth in each.
Men are free from disease, accomplish all their aims, and live four hundred years in the Krita
age, but in the Treta [silver age] and in each of the succeeding ages their life is lessened by one
The life-[span] of mortals... the desired results of sacrificial rites and the supernatural power of
embodied spirits are fruits apportioned among men according to the character of the age.
One set of duties is prescribed for men in the Krita age, different ones in the Treta and in the
Dvapara, and again another set in the Kali [the present age], in proportion as those ages decrease
in length.
In the Krita age the chief virtue is declared to be the performance of austerities, in the Treta
divine knowledge, in the Dvapara the performance of sacrifices, and in the Kali liberality alone.
17. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 1.81-86
When the Tao was lost, there was virtue;
When virtue was lost, there was benevolence;
When benevolence was lost, there was rectitude;
When rectitude was lost, there were rules of propriety.
Propriety is a wearing thin of loyalty and good faith,
And the beginning of disorder.
18. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 38
Mahabharata 13.40.5-12: In this and similar Hindu traditions, the motive for the human fall lies with the
gods, who grew jealous of people and desired to keep them out of heaven. This compares with the
jealousy of the angels in the Qur'anic and biblical accounts of the fall. Mahabharata 3.181.11-20:
Philosophical Hinduism explains evil by the doctrines of karma and reincarnation, but logically, karma
itself must have an origin. This passage allows how, though the Creator be good, the chain of evil karma
could begin. Laws of Manu 1.81-86: This is the Hindu doctrine of the Four Ages (Yugas), which together
make up a complete world-cycle. We now live in the Kali Age, which is said to have begun with the death
of Krishna shortly after the Mahabharata war (1500-1000 b.c.e.). Cf. Vishnu Purana 4.24, pp. 1092,
1106f; Linga Purana 1.40.72-83, p. 1115; Bhagavad Gita 8.17-21, p. 122. Tao Te Ching 38: On the
harmony of the golden age of the 'Great Tao,' or 'Grand Unity,' cf. Book of Ritual 7.1.2, p. 293; Tao Te
Ching 18-19, p. 294; Chuang Tzu 9, p. 320.
World Scripture
Footnotes complete through the 13th passage.
Click on the number for a link to the passage; click on the citation for a link to the footnotes and further
The scriptures of all religions testify to demonic beings and powers. Some regard them as real
and rival powers to God (Dualism); others consider them to be a manifestation of ignorance and
ultimately unreal (Monism). They testify that at their head is a chief, known by various names:
Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, Iblis, Mara, Angra Mainyu, among others. We have already met some
of them in the various accounts of the human fall and the origin of evil. But the demonic powers
are continually active, drawing people's hearts to do wickedness. While rationalists have
difficulty accepting the reality of the Devil, merely looking at the horrors of the twentieth
century causes one to realize that the capability of human beings to inflict evil on one another
transcends the realm of reason. Scriptures teach that when a person has the desire to do a small
evil, the devil has a claim and may influence him to do something far worse. Conversely, many
people on the religious path experience the temptations of the devil precisely at the point when
they are about to make great progress in their path.
We begin with descriptions of the Evil One from the texts of many religions. Some emphasize
the devil's power, some his enmity to God, and some his wrong teachings. Some identify him
with death and disease, others with lusts and selfish desires. We then include two passages, one
from Zoroastrianism and one from Native American religions, which describe a dualism in
which the Evil One creates all evil in the world to counter God's good creation. However, for the
monotheistic faiths that emphasize the goodness of God's creation, the demons themselves are
resultant beings who must have fallen from being good creations of God. Thus, the following
group of passages in this section portray the fall of the angels. A fourth selection of passages
treats the theme of the devil's disguises as a being of light, and next come two passages on the
devil's positive role to test and prove the faith of human beings. Finally, we give texts on the
devil's temptations and the manner in which people make themselves vulnerable to his influence.
The Evil Ruler spoils the Word,
the plan of life, by his teachings.
He, indeed, deprives me
of the exalted goal of Good Thought.
With the word of my spirit,
I pray to You, O Wise One, and to truth!
1. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 32.9
O believers, follow not the steps of Satan; for whoever follows the steps of Satan will assuredly
be bid to indecency and dishonor. But for God's bounty to you and His mercy not one of you
would have been pure ever; but God purifies whom He will; and God is All-hearing, Allknowing.
2. Islam. Qur'an 24.21
Jesus said to them... "Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to
hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He
was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no
truth in him. When he lies, it is according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
But, because I tell the truth, you do not believe me."
3. Christianity. Bible, John 8.43-45
For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the
powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of
wickedness in the heavenly places.
4. Christianity. Bible, Ephesians 6.12
The foremost of your armies is that of Desire, the second is called Dislike. The third is HungerThirst and the fourth is Craving. The fifth is the army of Lethargy-Laziness and the sixth is Fear.
The seventh is Doubt and the eighth is Obstinacy-Restlessness. Then there are Material Gain,
Praise, Honor, and Fame... These, O Mara, are your forces, the attackers of the Evil One. One
less than a hero will not be victorious over them and attain happiness.
5. Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 436-39
The Essence of Mind or Suchness is the real Buddha,
While heretical views and the three poisonous elements [greed, anger delusion] are Mara.
Enlightened by right views, we call forth the Buddha within us.
When our nature is dominated by the three poisonous elements
We are said to be possessed by the devil;
But when right views eliminate from our mind these poisonous elements
The devil will be transformed into a real Buddha.
6. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 10
You, trees, hear my words, and you, grass, hear my words, and you, Divinity, hear my words and
you, earth, hear my words. Repeat, ee! O Divinity, because of sickness, you help out my tongue.
For we have dedicated the ox and invoked over it. And if a man has hated Akol [and his sickness
is the result of malice] then that man will find what he deserves.... And you, ox, we have given
you to the Power [the illness]. And you fetish-bundles, they say that you kill people. Leave off,
you are shamed. You fetish, I have separated you, cease! And you Macardit they say that you kill
people, I have separated you, cease! Thus!
7. African Traditional Religions. Dinka Invocation at an Ox Sacrifice (Sudan)
Seated on his golden throne, blazing like flame, Ravana resembled a great fire kindled on an altar
kept alive by sacrificial offerings. Unconquered by gods, gandharvas, rishis or other creatures,
that warrior, who resembled death itself with wide-open jaws, bore on his person the wounds
inflicted by the thunderbolts in the war between gods and titans... He, the scourge of the gods,
who transgressed every moral law, the ravisher of others' wives, the wielder of celestial weapons,
the destroyer of sacrifices, who descended into the city of Bhogavati and subdued the serpent
Vasuki, from whom, on his defeat, he stole the gentle consort; he who scaled Mount Kailasha
and overcame Kuvera depriving him of his aerial chariot Pushpaka, which transported him
wherever he desired; he who in his anger destroyed the garden of Chaitaratha, the lotus pool and
the Nandana Grove and all the pleasurable retreats of the gods... proud of his strength, he stole
the Soma juice, sanctified by mantras, before its pressing by the twice-born in the sacrifice; this
perverse wretch, Ravana of evil deeds, slayer of the brahmins, ruthless, pitiless, delighting in
causing harm to others, was verily a source of terror to all beings.
8. Hinduism. Ramayana, Aranya Kanda 32
The first of the good lands and countries which I, Ahura Mazda, created, was Paradise, by the
good river Araxes. Thereupon came Angra Mainyu, who is all death, and he counter-created by
his witchcraft the serpent in the river and winter, a work of the devils.
The second of the good lands and countries which I, Ahura Mazda, created, was the plains in
Samarkand. Thereupon came Angra Mainyu, who is all death, and he counter-created by his
witchcraft the fly Skaitya, which brings death to the cattle.
The third of the good lands and countries which I, Ahura Mazda, created, was the strong, holy
Merv. Thereupon came Angra Mainyu, who is all death, and he counter-created by his witchcraft
sinful lusts....
The eighth of the good lands and countries which I, Ahura Mazda, created, was Urva of the rich
pastures. Thereupon came Angra Mainyu, who is all death, and he counter-created by his
witchcraft the sin of pride.
9. Zoroastrianism. Videvdad 1.3-11
Many winters in the past, the Earth was entirely covered by a great blanket of water. There was
no sun, moon, or stars and so there was no light. All was darkness. At that time, the only living
creatures of the earth were water animals such as the beaver, muskrat, duck, and loon. Far above
the earth was the Land of Happy Spirits where lived Rawennio, the Great Ruler. In the center of
this upper world was a giant apple tree whose roots sank deep into the ground.
One day, Rawennio pulled this giant tree up by its roots. The Great Spirit called his daughter,
who lived in the Upper World, and commanded her to look into the pit caused by the uprooted
tree. This woman, who was to be the mother of the Good and Evil Spirits, came and looked into
the hole by the uprooted tree. She saw far below her the Lower World covered with water and
surrounded by heavy clouds. "You are to go to this world of darkness," said the Great Spirit.
Gently lifting her, he dropped her into the hole. She floated downward....
[The water animals then dive beneath the water to find some dry land for her to land upon; they
erect the land on the back of a giant turtle.]
After a time, the Sky Woman gave birth to twins. One, who became the Good Spirit, was born
first. The other, the Evil Spirit, while being born, caused her mother so much pain that she died
during his birth.
The Good Spirit immediately took his mother's head and hung it in the sky. It became the sun.
From his mother's body he fashioned the moon and stars and placed them in the sky. The rest of
his mother's body he buried under the earth. That is why living things find nourishment in the
soil. They spring from Mother Earth.
The Evil Spirit put darkness in the western sky to drive the sun before it. The Good Spirit created
many things which he placed upon the earth. The Evil Spirit tried to undo the work of his brother
by creating evil. The Good Spirit made tall and beautiful trees such as the pine and hemlock. The
Evil Spirit stunted some trees. In others he put knots and gnarls. He covered some with thorns,
and placed poison fruit on them. The Good Spirit made animals such as the dear and the bear.
The Evil Spirit made poisonous animals, lizards and serpents to destroy the animals of the Good
Spirit's creation. The Good Spirit made springs and streams of good, pure water. The Evil Spirit
breathed poison into many of the springs. He put snakes into others. The Good Spirit made
beautiful rivers protected by high hills. The Evil Spirit pushed rocks and dirt into the rivers
causing the current to become swift and dangerous. Everything that the Good Spirit made, his
wicked brother tried to destroy.
Finally, when the earth was completed, the Good Spirit fashioned man out of some red clay. He
placed man upon the earth, and told him how he should live. The Evil Spirit, not to be outdone,
fashioned a creature out of the white foam of the sea. What he made was the monkey.
After mankind and the other creatures of the world were created, the Good Spirit bestowed a
protecting spirit upon each of his creations. He then called the Evil Spirit, and told him that he
must cease making trouble upon the earth. This the Evil Spirit refused to do. The Good Spirit
became very angry with his wicked brother and challenged him to combat, the victor to become
ruler of the earth. They fought for many days; finally the Evil Spirit was overcome. The Goo